26th International Karstological School "Classical karst"
Show Caves and Science

(on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Postojna Cave System's discovery)

Topic and Goals

Since 1993, the International Karstological School (IKS) "Classical Karst" has been organised annually, covering many aspects of karst research. The basic idea of the School has been to present the state-of-the-art in selected topics and promote discussion between participants via a set of lectures, poster session and related field trips to the Slovenian Classical Karst area.

In 1818, an extensive cave system beyond the Postojna Cave entrance chamber was discovered. Touristic use of this millions-of-years old, relatively stable, highly preserved and fragile underground environment started just a year later. During the following decades, the first research was carried out, related especially to cave surveying, paleontology and biospeleology. Nowadays, we are facing two centuries of various interventions and consequences left by 38 million visitors and different management styles during six historical geopolitical changes that included prosperity and crises, thoughtful (monitored) and inattentive activities, and good and bad practices. Need for sustainable use developed gradually with problems related to lightning, transportation, damage to speleothems, impact on cave animals as well as changes of cave climate. After two centuries of touristic use, we have an excellent opportunity to share both the good and bad practices of adapting caves for tourism worldwide and to evaluate the role of science. One can say that show caves are economically sacrificed natural phenomena but at least due to their extraordinary size, aesthetics and accessibility there is necessity for science-guided management that will allow their continued preservation and attractiveness for the next centuries.

The main aim of the 26th IKS is to present and discuss a wide range of speleological issues addressed by different scientific and technical disciplines that are deeply involved in sustainable show cave management (morphology, biology, meteorology and nature conservation), the monitoring of natural conditions and tourist-related activities in show caves. Of course, we will visit exemplar show caves to examine issues in the field. Oral presentations will consist of invited keynote lectures followed by presentations of selected outstanding research by participants. As the number of lectures is limited, other contributions (even if they are not strictly related to the selected topic) can be presented as posters.