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Book review:
Preserving karst environments and karst caves. Karst dynamics, environments, usage and restauration: Towards an international karst preservation system.

Edited by Elena Trofimova and Jean-Noël Salomon. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, vol. 60, Suppl. Issue 2, Gebrüder Borntraeger Science Publishers, Stuttgart, 2016, 353 p.
Grégory Dandurand
p. 185-186
Référence(s) :

Preserving karst environments and karst caves. Karst dynamics, environments, usage and restauration: Towards an international karst preservation system. Edited by Elena Trofimova and Jean-Noël Salomon. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, vol. 60, Suppl. Issue 2, Gebrüder Borntraeger Science Publishers, Stuttgart, 2016, 353 p.

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Preserving karst environments and karst caves. Karst dynamics, environments, usage and restauration: Towards an international karst preservation system.

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1Beginning with the unanimously shared observation of the growing threats to karstic environments and to caves in particular, the Karst Commission of the International Union of Geography, under the direction of Elena TROFIMOVA, decided to draw up an assessment of the situation, of the vulnerabilities, risks and scientific, cultural, national heritage and educational issues, in order to assemble propositions that would constitute a basis for a program of international protection of karstic environments. This initiative was inspired by the Ramsar Convention for the protection and improvement of humid zones of international importance. Particularly interesting is the brief history recounting the different stages of this initiative that led to the establishment of a Convention based on 12 articles defining the role and the obligations of the Contracting Parties, in order to develop an international network of protection and improvement of karstic environments based on the model of the European and World Network of Geoparks supported by UNESCO.

2Fifteen long years were required, however, to obtain the 17 contributions in this special issue of the journal Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, organized in 4 large chapters of differing length: 1. Scientific and cultural background (135 p); 2. Human impact, resources utilisation and tourism (80 p); 3. Management and protection of karst areas (83 p); 4. Legal status of caves and karst areas and the legislative framework (33 p).

3The first chapter contains 7 contributions. The first is a recapitulation of the specificities of karst from the point of view of morphology and of the way the natural system works. This approach on a world scale reveals the spatial size of karst (30% of continental surface areas); moreover, more than 1000 karstic sites are listed among the World Heritage sites of UNESCO. All the forms at different scales are reviewed. Those readers not familiar with this type of landscape and models will find a rapid survey illustrated by some black and white photographs and very didactic synthesizing tables. The absence of explanatory diagrams and geological sections is regrettable.

4The following 6 articles show how caves are environments that are very rich in several ways (geochemical, mineralogical, biological as well as faunal, palaeontological and archaeological), but above all extremely fragile. To be noted in particular is the long but complete article by P. Forti et B.P. Onac on the different speleothems and the processes of mineralisation in caves, on which studies of palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment at high resolution are a major subject of research in karstology; also to be noted is the article by R.G. Bednarik on comparison of rupestral art.

5The second chapter is devoted to the use of karst and its associated resources. The 4 articles included provide the same observation: karst offers exceptional resources, water of course, for agriculture, animal breeding, large urban areas, but also those for mineral extraction as well as for tourism and leisure activities. However, because of its hydrological specificity, karst is very sensitive and reactive to human activities in all their spatial and temporal dimensions. The qualitative degradation of water (pollutants), the acceleration of processes of erosion, sedimentation and collapse, the drying up of springs and flooding all reveal a strong link with the different socio-economic contexts that they impact. Of particular interest is the article by E. Tanács on the development of forest exploitation in the karstic massif of Aggtelek in Hungary, and that by M. Parise on the impact of mining and quarrying activities, whose lasting negative effects, estimated to be the most damaging in terms of disruption of karstic ecosystems, can in specific cases be compensated for by increasingly better predictive modelling.

6The third chapter approaches the question of the management and protection of karstic environments and spaces. Although the first article (I. Bárány Kevei) sometimes repeats the theme of the preceding chapter and does not clearly explain the capacities of auto-restoration of karstic environments, the two following articles are very illuminating. The article of Andreychouk shows forcefully, with explanatory illustrations and diagrams, the lack of alignment between the present policies for the establishment of protected areas and the way in which the karst geosystem is organized and works (fig. 13 is very instructive). Finally, the article by E. Gabrovšek et al. presents the study of a real case in Slovenia where the interdisciplinary fundamental research carried out by the Karst Research Institute of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Art enabled an overall regional study (monitoring, tracing...) of which the exploitation of the results has served a multitude of applications in the field of civil engineering, including the management of hydroelectric dams, the risk of contamination of aquifers and the risk of collapse.

7The fourth chapter presents in 2 contributions by the same author (G.J. Middleton) an overview of the legal status of caves and the different entities (private or public) and instruments (contractual, conventional and legislative) that are potential levers to be activated by governmental and local policies of conservation and protection of karst. The comparison between several countries shows that policies of protection favour more the creation of parks and natural reserves.

8Although the articles are unequal in quality, and despite the regrettable absence of maps for locating the sites discussed, the publication of this work, whose gestation was “painful”, should be applauded. We are grateful to the authors for having succeeded in the challenge of gathering the 11 different nationalities represented in this special volume of the journal Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie. We can but hope that the Karst Commission attains its objective as soon as possible.

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Référence papier

Grégory Dandurand, « Book review:
Preserving karst environments and karst caves. Karst dynamics, environments, usage and restauration: Towards an international karst preservation system.
 », Géomorphologie : relief, processus, environnement, vol. 24 – n° 2 | 2018, 185-186.

Référence électronique

Grégory Dandurand, « Book review:
Preserving karst environments and karst caves. Karst dynamics, environments, usage and restauration: Towards an international karst preservation system.
 », Géomorphologie : relief, processus, environnement [En ligne], vol. 24 – n° 2 | 2018, mis en ligne le 08 mars 2018, consulté le 22 juillet 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/11964

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Grégory Dandurand

Géo-Archéologue, Inrap – GSO / Centre de recherches archéologiques de Poitiers | Laboratoire TRACES UMR 5608 – 122, rue de la Bugellerie, Zone République 3, 86000 Poitiers, France (gregory.dandurand@inrap.fr). Tél : +33 (0)7 62 01 27 79

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