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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   The Karst Biosphere Reserve encompasses the kocjaske jame Regional Park including the kocjan caves, designated both as a World Heritage site and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The specific underground ecosystems, typical of the karst, are well known for their geomorphological, geological, and hydrological formations that are due to the limestone bedrock. The latter is the main reason for the constant lack of running surface water in the karst and the creation of conditions for cave formation. It also influenced the way animals and plants have adapted, the occurrence of rare and endemic species such as cave salamander (Proteus anguinus), invertebrates and bats, and the rational use of water by farmers. The kocjan caves are composed of a system of eleven interconnected underground caves, flat-floored valleys extending over collapsed dolines, natural bridges and sinkholes. They are adorned with stalactites, stone curtains and broad rimstone pools. This site is the reference for all karst studies worldwide: for this reason the Biosphere Reserve is named the Karst Biosphere Reserve.

The Biosphere Reserve is important to demonstrate the rational use of water and management of water sources. Typical karst land is ecologically very vulnerable due to large underground pools of potable water. The Biosphere Reserve seeks to integrate and co-ordinate sustainable agricultural practices with the preservation of caves and local hydrological processes, controlling surface and subsurface pollution from fertilizers and wastewater.

Three villages are included, with a total population of about 12,000 people. As there was a relatively low level of development in the past, the villages are now benefiting from several sustainable revitalization projects. Local people are encouraged to use old organic farming techniques, especially in food production, with emphasis on apple and honey production and sheep breeding. Local people have created the kocjan Tourist Society, which plays an active role in the protection and conservation of the natural and cultural heritage as well as in promoting and applying principles of ecotourism. In some parts of the caves, a type of climato-therapy for patients with respiratory diseases called speleotherapy takes place. The area has a rich cultural heritage with many archaeological, ethnological and historical monuments and traces of the tradition of milling and sawmilling. The Biosphere Reserve is run by the Regional Park authorities: park management staff submits a management plan to the Public Agency Škocjanske jame, which in turn submits it further to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for acceptance. The Public Agency, in co-operation with the Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy is responsible for its implementation.
  Major ecosystem type   Evergreen sclerophyllous forests, woodlands or scrub; underground karst ecosystems
  Major habitats & land cover types   Podzemno krako mokriče; Cave systems; Cave with cave salamander (Proteus anguinus); Dry grassland characterized by Stipa eriocaulis, Ruta divaricata, Carex humilis etc.; Vertical rocky walls of collapsed dolinas; Karstic ponds in villages.
  Location   45°39'15" to 45°41'N; 13°58'30" to 14°01'30"W (Core area)
45°29' to 45°45'N; 13°58' to 14°28'W (Buffer zone)
45°46' to 45°38'N; 13°56' to 14°06'W (Transition area)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   60,193
  Core area(s)   413
  Buffer zone(s)   45,000
  Transition area(s) when given   14,780
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +200 to +475
  Year designated   2004
  Administrative authorities   Park kocjanske Jame, Regional Park, Public Service Agency, reporting to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of the Environment, Physical Planning and Energy, Office for the Environment
  Brief description   The core area of the Biosphere Reserve corresponds to the protected Park kocjanske jame. The special protection regime that is applied here for natural and cultural monuments is due to the special value of the area and its significance for World Heritage. The inclusion of the Mejame caves in the protected area is being prepared, since many endemic species live there; it is a unique habitat with all the typical geomorphological peculiarities of contact karst. The buffer zone covers the Reka River basin. It is an important area in forming the karst underground ecosystems. The transition area covers the area of the Classical Divača Karst in Slovenia. Due to the great vulnerability of the surface and complexity of underground karst water and its flows it is necessary to carefully plan the activities that must provide constant underground water quality.

Monitoring of microclimate and radio-activity; Monitoring of meteorological measurements; Hydrology; Inventorying of lampenflora (algae, mosses and ferns); Bioindication of ground ozone; Tourist visit statistics; Possibilities for fruit cultivation and development of traditional farming; Speleotherapy; Honey production; Tourist promotion of the Karst and its effects; Significance of sheep breeding for preserving biodiversity; Economical and social aspects of woods and grasslands; School network - connecting different generations and preserving traditions.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Climate, contaminants, hydrology, indicators, meteorology, monitoring/methodologies, pollution, pollutants, speleology.
  Biodiversity   Algae, biodiversity, breeding/reproduction, flora, monitoring/methodologies, temperate grassland.
  Socio-economic   Agriculture/Production systems, economic studies, social/socio-economic aspects, tourism, traditional practices/ethnology/traditional knowledge.
  Integrated monitoring   Education and public awareness.
  Contact address   Vanja Debevec Gerjevic
Park Skocjanske jame - Karst biosphere reserve

  Contact address   Albin Debevec
Park Skocjan Caves, Slovenia
Skocjan 2, St 6215 Divaca
  Telephone   (386 0)5 70 82 110
  Fax   (386 0)5 70 82 111

Last updated: 06/04/2006

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