UNESCO E-library of Park Škocjan Caves and The Karst Biosphere Reserve

In 1986 the Škocjan Caves were entered on UNESCO's list of natural and cultural world heritage sites. The recognition of the world community, in addition to national pride and the bases for redefining the identity of the space and people, brought new responsibilities for permanent preservation and protection of world heritage. With a special act, in 1996 the Government of the Republic of Slovenia established the Škocjan Caves Regional Park, designating also the managing authority of the protected area. The Škocjan Caves Park Public Service Agency's programme for protection and development is based on legal provisions that imply necessary restrictions regarding certain forms of living and acting of man in his habitat with the aim of preserving the existing forms of living and acting on the level of surface and underground ecosystems. In 1999 the underground course of the Reka River in the Škocjan Caves was included on the list of wetlands of international importance of the Ramsar Convention. In 2004 the Škocjan Caves Park was included – as Karst Biosphere Reserve – in the world network of biosphere reserves of UNESCO's intergovernmental Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.

foto partnerji slovenija-1Škocjan Caves


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Škocjan Caves

In 1986 the Škocjan Caves were entered on UNESCO's list of natural and cultural world heritage sites. The recognition of the world community, in addition to national pride and the bases for redefining the identity of the space and people, brought new responsibilities for permanent preservation and protection of world heritage. With a special act, in 1996 the Government of the Republic of Slovenia established the Škocjan Caves Regional Park, designating also the managing authority of the protected area. The Škocjan Caves Park Public Service Agency's programme for protection and development is based on legal provisions that imply necessary restrictions regarding certain forms of living and acting of man in his habitat with the aim of preserving the existing forms of living and acting on the level of surface and underground ecosystems. In 1999 the underground course of the Reka River in the Škocjan Caves was included on the list of wetlands of international importance of the Ramsar Convention. In 2004 the Škocjan Caves Park was included – as Karst Biosphere Reserve – in the world network of biosphere reserves of UNESCO's intergovernmental Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.

Škocjan Caves
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Under high, sheer rock faces, the river sinks into the Škocjan Caves, runs through the Mahorčičeva Jama and Mariničeva Jama caves, resurfaces in the Mala Dolina collapse doline (Little Dolina) and reaches the lake in the Velika Dolina (Great Dolina). There it finally sinks into the Šumeča Jama cave (Murmuring Cave), which measures 250 m in length and a maximum of 80 m in height and has 870,000 m3 of volume and 16,700 m2 of surface area. It is followed by the Hankejev Kanal, a 95 m high and up to 15 m wide canyon. The Martelova Dvorana is the largest underground hall in the Karst. It measures 308 m in length, 123 m in width, the average height of the ceiling is 106 m, the highest point being at 146 m, and its volume is 2,100,000 m3.

The entrances to the caves are extremely picturesque collapse dolines. In the Mala Dolina and Velika Dolina, through which the Reka River runs underground, an exceptional, geomorphologically and micro-climatically conditioned ecosystem developed and was preserved. Here, Mediterranean, sub-Mediterranean, Central European, Illyrian and Alpine floral elements occur side by side. Consequently, glacial and thermophile relicts, which are living testimony of past climatic periods, can be found here. The Velika Dolina is the typical locality of the endemic Campanula justiniana Witasek.

In the underground system of the Reka River rare cave animals are preserved. Among subterranean fauna the most numerous are copepods; one of them is Elaphoidella slovenica Wells (syn. Elaphoidella karstica), a Škocjan Caves endemic. Copepod species Moriaropsis scotenophila and Speocyclops infernus were first described here. The olm (Proteus anguinus), a Dinaric endemic species, is also found in the underground river.

There are some archaeological excavation sites within the protected area which have been researched. These include cave sites, settlements and burial grounds which point to continuous settlement from the Mesolithic period, the Neolithic period, the Eneolithic period, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and Antiquity to the migration of peoples and early Middle Ages.

In this region of Slovenia scientists began to systematically study karst features. From here they spread their scientific findings throughout the world. The Škocjan Caves region draws its universal value from its exceptional importance for the fundamental research of the karst and karst features since the 19th century on. Many Slovenian words that were used by speleologists to name certain features entered speleological terminology as technical terms. It is from here that international geomorphologic terms "karst" and "doline" originate.

Prepared by: 
Vanja Debevec, MSc., Head of Department for Research and Development, Park Škocjan Caves, Slovenia

Izdelava: Studio Matris