Škocjan Caves, Slovenia: an integrative approach to the management of a World Heritage Site
Vanja Debevec, Borut Peric, Samo Šturm, Tomaž Zorman, Peter Jovanovič, 2018. "Škocjan Caves, Slovenia: an integrative approach to the management of a World Heritage Site", Advances in Karst Research: Theory, Fieldwork and Applications, M. Parise, F. Gabrovsek, G. Kaufmann, N. Ravbar
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The Škocjan Caves are included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List due to their outstanding natural features. The caves include a large underground canyon containing the Reka River, collapse dolines with vegetation in rock fissures and impressive archaeological sites with a rich history of speleological and scientific research. They are also included in the Ramsar Directory of Wetlands of International Importance. Together with their broader surface area, the site is known as the UNESCO Karst Biosphere Reserve. The aim of the management of the reserve is to protect the World Heritage Site and to preserve its outstanding universal value for future generations. The protection activities are regulated by the provisions of international documents, the Škocjan Caves Regional Park Act and the park’s management plan. These activities include monitoring of the water quality in the Reka River and meteorological surveys on the surface. Monitoring of the microclimate of the caves focuses on measuring the effects of tourism and monitoring the levels of radon, with the aim of the ensuring the safety of the park’s employees. Ensuring a favourable status for the underground habitats and species is laid down in the Natura 2000 management programme. Particular attention is paid to ensuring high-quality, safe visits to the caves and providing educational and awareness-raising activities on the surface of the park.
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Karst landscapes and karst aquifers are composed of a variety of soluble rocks, such as salt, gypsum, anhydrite, limestone, dolomite and quartzite. They are fascinating areas of exploration, study and research. As karst rocks are abundant on the Earth’s surface, the fast evolution of karst landscapes and the rapid flow of water through karst aquifers present many challenges from a number of different perspectives. This collection of 25 papers deals with different aspects of these challenges, including karst geology, geomorphology and speleogenesis, karst hydrogeology, karst modelling, and karst hazards and management. Together these papers provide a state-of-the-art review of the current challenges and solutions we face in describing karst from a scientific perspective, while at the same time providing useful data and information for managing karst territories to land planners, developers, and managers of show caves, natural parks and reserves in karst terrains.