Protection and management of the karst natural and cultural heritage


Earth and Environmental Sciences (2nd level)

Karstology (2nd Cycle)

Course code: MIK04
Year of study: 2nd year

Course principal:
Prof. Tadej Slabe, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 25 hours, seminar 15 hours, field work 25 hours, individual work 85 hours.
Course type: elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminar, field work


Course syllabus (download)


First-cycle Bologna degree or a university degree in the natural sciences.


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • Specifics of natural and cultural heritage (surface and underground) on karst;
  • Valuation of nature and culture (aspects of extraordinarity, representativeness, complexity, healthiness, rarity, demonstrative clarity;
  • Anthropogenic pressures and vulnerability of heritage on karst;
  • Protection and development of area with heritage – legislative protection system (international, national and local level);
  • Presentation and interpretation of karst heritage;
  • Conflicts of interest related to heritage protection on karst;
  • Management models for preservation of heritage (parks, concession);
  • Show caves – establishment, preservation and development, infrastructure, guiding/interpretation.



  • WILLIAMS P., 2008. World Heritage Caves and Karst. IUCN, Gland: 57 pp.
  • KRANJC, A., GABROVŠEK, F., MULEC, J., PIPAN, T., 2008. Turizem (Zgodovina jamskega turizma, Monitoring, Življenje v kraških jamah, Ureditev turistične jame). In: LUTHAR, O., DOBROVOLJC, H., PAVŠEK, M., MULEC, J., FRIDL, J., BABIJ, V. (Eds.). Kras. Trajnostni razvoj kraške pokrajine. Založba ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana: 279-300.
  • HILDRETH-WERKER, V., WERKER, J.C., 2006. Cave Conservation and Restoration. National Speleological Society, Huntswille: 17-252 (izbrana poglavja).
  • GAMS, I., 2003. Kras v Sloveniji v prostoru in času (6. poglavje: Človek spreminja kras). Založba ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana: 207-240.
  • BOŽIČ, D., DULAR, J., PAVLIN, P., LAUKO, T., CIGLENEČKI, S., AUBELJ, B., TECCO HVALA, S., BELAK, M., KNIFIC LUNDER, D., KOROŠEC, T., MIKULETIČ, J., 1999. Zakladi tisočletij. Zgodovina Slovenije od neandertalcev do Slovanov. Modrijan, Ljubljana: 91-93 str.
  • MIHEVC, A., 2005. Suhi zidovi in delane vrtače – antropogena preoblikovanost kraškega površja na območju Račic, Divače in Volčjega Gradu. In: MIHEVC, A. (ur.). Kras : voda in življenje v kamniti pokrajini = water and life in a rocky landscape. Ljubljana: 251-275.
  • LUTHAR, O., FAKIN BAJEC, J., LUTHAR, B., PRIJATELJ, M., EBNER, M., 2008. Kulturna dediščina – Degradacija kraške stavbne dediščine. In: LUTHAR, O., DOBROVOLJC, H., PAVŠEK, M., MULEC, J., FRIDL, J., BABIJ, V. (ur.). Kras. Trajnostni razvoj kraške pokrajine. Založba ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana: 57-71.
  • GAMS, I., 1991. Sistemi prilagoditve primorskega dinarskega krasa na kmetijsko rabo tal (Systems of adapting the littoral Dinaric Karst to agrarian land use). Geografski zbornik 31: 5-106.
  • MIHEVC, A., PRELOVŠEK, M., ZUPAN-HAJNA, N., 2010. Introduction to the Dinaric Karst. Inštitut za raziskovanje krasa ZRC SAZU, Postojna: 44-48 str.
  • GRAY, M., 2013. Geodiversity: Valuing and Conserving Abiotic Nature (2nd Edition). Willey-Blackwell, Chichester: 65-132 str.


Objectives and competences:

Karst is usually outstanding type of landscape due to specific processes related to soluble rocks (dissolution and calcite precipitation) as well as physical characteristics of caves that favours preservation of cultural heritage. Due to sparser population (as a result of harsh natural conditions) and weaker pressure of modernization, karst natural heritage in better preserved and karst cultural heritage is closer to the concept of traditionality. This results in remarkable heritage density. Due to favourable conditions for preservation, archeologic findings in karst caves are usually the only evidence of old Palaeolithic cultures. A part of heritage is exclusively related to karst (e.g. show caves). Slow karst processes and long-term damage that can be done to karst heritage is reason for very strong consideration and monitoring before (and after) any anthropogenic impact is made. From the viewpoint of cultural heritage, specifics of karst can be recognized especially in settlement pattern (e.g. nucleated villages/clustered settlements), water supply and intensive architectural use of stone. Traditional life on karst can be observed in practically intact areas (e.g. high karst plateaus) or, on the other hand, thousand-years-old use of lowland plateaus that became cultural landscape (e.g. dry walls and cultivated dolines).


Goal of the course is to present above mentioned characteristics of karst natural and cultural heritage. This knowledge is later upgraded with mechanisms of preservation, protection, and managing as well as touristic use of heritage from theory, practice and legislation. Deep knowledge about karst processes is needed to present and interpret karst phenomena. Further on, soft boundary between heritage preservation/protection on one hand and mitigation of negative impacts on human (safety) and use of heritage on other hand is considered. At the end of a course it is crucial that student absorbs knowledge and perception of karst natural and cultural heritage as an important existing resource and potential source for regional development as well as to perceive dynamic equilibrium between preservation and (economic) use of heritage.


Intended learning outcomes:

  • Knowledge on specifics of natural and cultural heritage on karst;
  • Knowledge on different types and principles for evaluation of natural and cultural heritage on karst;
  • Knowledge on negative anthropogenic impacts on natural and cultural heritage;
  • Knowledge on needs to preserve/protect natural and cultural heritage as a potential for development of karst regions;
  • Knowledge on ways of protection, protection measures and managing with natural and cultural heritage on karst;
  • Knowledge on presentation mode and interpretation of karst natural and cultural heritage;
  • Knowledge on (inter)national legislation related to preservation of natural and cultural heritage on karst;
  • Knowledge on underground natural and cultural heritage on karst (principally caves): survey, register, database as source for managing;
  • Knowledge of show cave preservation, development, managing, and guiding system;
  • Knowledge of relation between human safety measures and environmental protection.



Exam (written/oral, 70 %), seminar work (30 %).