COBLESKILL, N.Y., May 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Members of the International Show Caves Association (ISCA), the National Caves Association USA (NCA) along with cave associations from many countries, scientists, and countless cave enthusiasts worldwide are joining together to celebrate the International Day of Caves and the Subterranean World and National Cave & Karst Day, aka International Cave Day, on 6th June. Around the globe show caves will be hosting local celebrations filled with educational opportunities and a call for protection of caves everywhere.
Show caves (caves open to the public for learning and enjoyment) provide education on the importance of conservation to over 150 million people a year. These caves are often the first exposure to the karst environment and can spur a lifetime of interest in exploration, study, and protection of these important natural resources. These caves are beginning to rebound after COVID closures worldwide hit the industry hard.
“Cave preservation is made possible by the realization of how critical caves and karst landscapes are to people and their communities,” said Brad Wuest, president of ISCA. “Show caves are often the first experience people have with these incredible eco-systems and provide an opportunity to inspire a desire for conservation.” Show cave operators around the world are celebrating their multifaceted role of stewardship, education, and tourism within their community.
Show caves are also helping raise funds to protect caves and the ability of people to visit them for future generations through the Cave Preservation Network. The Cave Preservation Network is a collaboration in the USA of the National Speleological Society (NSS), the National Caves Association USA, private cave owners, cave explorers, and all those who are fascinated by the caving world. The goal is to generate educational materials to be used at caves across the country and to raise funds for protecting wild cave and karst lands for today and the future. A number of USA cave operators are raising money for the Cave Preservation Network by accepting donations, matching contributions, and offering “rounding up” on tickets while helping millions of people learn about why preservation is so important.
“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Cave Preservation Network (CPN), NSS members have been able to work with show cave owners to protect sensitive cave environments across the US,” noted Adam Weaver, Administrative Vice President for NSS. “In the last year, this partnership has resulted in more than 350,000 downloads of cave conservation materials. During this same period, these collaborative efforts allowed the NSS to be comfortable in its acquisition of four new nature preserves, protecting more than 30 miles of cave passage.”
“At one time all our show caves were wild caves awaiting discovery,” said Bob Holt, Executive Director of NCA. “The truth is without continued exploration, study and protection; we could lose these remarkable natural wonders for generations to come.”
In France, the National Association of Operators of Caves Developed for Tourism (ANECAT) and the French Federation of Speleology (FFS) are celebrating the International Day of Caves and the Subterranean World together. Activities include tours with both guides and cavers, introduction to caving techniques, virtual tours, and more.
Exploration and scientific research are still underway in caves around the world by speleologists with caves continually being discovered, surveyed, and studied. Even so, the world is full of caves that have never been seen by a human. Critical scientific insights come from caves: researchers sample formations to track historical weather trends dating back hundreds of thousands of years to learn about climate. Rain and surface water are traced as they percolate through karst landscapes and caves into aquifers to create modeling and better understand how to protect our precious water resources.
Caves are among the most universally visited natural formations around the world, and the impact of the pandemic, which was significant on all tourism centers, hit show caves hard. Worldwide close to 150 million people visit show caves in a normal year, but an estimated 59% of visitation to these communities was lost at the height of the pandemic. Fortunately, with travel recovery underway along with an increased interest in visiting natural wonders, show caves are positioned for a robust rebound.
Scientists around the world are joining the celebration, in particular speleologists. “Everyone is touched by caves and karst. Water, food, cultural history, and scientific research that supports all of our lives and benefits everyone on the planet—not just those living in the 20% of the land that is cavernous and karstic,” said George Veni, President of the International Union of Speleology. Caves and karst landscapes supply 10% of the fresh drinking water to billions of people. They deliver tens of billions of dollars each year to economies through tourism. They serve as habitat for many important species such as bats which eat insects, pollinate, and disperse seeds, reducing pesticide use and supporting the production of foods, medicines, and industrial products. It also provides a bounty of unique scientific knowledge for climate change, mineral resources, agriculture, and even the search for life on other planets.
“Caves have always attracted people,” said Wuest, “Archeologists have found evidence of ancient peoples in caves including artifacts and paintings. The oldest known cave paintings in Europe are estimated to be 64,000 years old in Maltravieso, Ardales, and La Pasiega, Spain.” The first recorded cave tour in Europe was at Postojna Cave, Slovenia in 1213.
Celebration of International Cave Day is the perfect time to spark interest in these critical natural places. “We are thrilled to return to sharing these incredible environments with more people,” said Holt. “Who knows, the next person who walks through a show cave could very well turn into a speleologist in their own right.”
About the International Show Caves Association
The International Show Caves Association (ISCA) was founded in 1990 and is headquartered in Frasassi/Genga, Italy. ISCA is an international organization of persons, associations, corporations, and government agencies who own, manage or operate show caves that are open to the public. ISCA provides a critical forum for show caves to network and collaborate on matters pertaining to their caves. ISCA aims to promote, encourage, and support the cooperation of show cave operators, speleologists and cave enthusiasts through the sharing of information and to promote the preservation and conservation of caves while increasing public interest in the world of show caves by way of unique marketing and the evolution of methods to enhance the show cave experience.
About the National Caves Association USA
Founded in 1965 by a small group of private show cave owners from across the United States, the National Caves Association USA (NCA) has been encouraging the public to discover the underground wonders of America’s show caves. The Association has grown over the years to include the best show caves across the United States, Bermuda, and Barbados.
Links for: International Show Caves Association
National Caves Association USA
International Union of Speleology
National Speleological Society
Cave Preservation Network
Winter Prosapio, ISCA/NCA Communications USA: [email protected] +(1) 512-888-6570
Brad Wuest, ISCA President: [email protected], + (1) 210-651-6101
Juan José Tíscar Moya, ISCA Communications Europe: [email protected] +34 660 24 46 50
Bob Holt, NCA Executive Director: [email protected], 518-231-5420
PHOTO ASSETS AND B-ROLL
Caves and karst photos, logos, and B-Roll are available here
Fact Sheet on Caves and Karst
SOURCE International Show Caves Association; National Caves Association