Vjetrenica cave threat

Dear all

We ask for support for protecting Vjetrenica cave (means Wind cave), the largest cave system in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the richest by the subterranean animals in the world (see http://www.nabn.info/, www.vjetrenica.com). It is situated in very famous karst landscape (south part of Dinaric Alps) which has been discovered as a first karst relief and assessed as one of the most distinguished in the world.

Vjetrenica has almost 100 cave animal species; more than half of them are very endemic ones. 15 of them are stenobionts %u2013 so endemic organisms as never been found anywhere out of Vjetrenica cave. Also, 35 of them are discovered for the first time and described in Vjetrenica (locus typicus). It should be known that only 20 world caves have more than 20 cave animals!

Very serious threats come since:

-         Absence of efficiency of the law, state institutions and administrative infrastructure for protecting Vjetrenica cave. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina has assigned some regarded international conventions, dominant political group promote only industrial developing plans;

-         Inadequate type of protecting area and ignorance of existing protected area (Vjetrenica has been proclaimed as natural monument %u2013 geomorphologically, but it is the richest subterranean habitats from anywhere);

-         A dangerous tourist plan of usage is started to be developed, without any appropriate permission;

-        A dangerous developing of the Vjetrenica area: quarries, fertilizer & chemical agriculture and pumping water from the Vjetrenica cave;

Vjetrenica is inscribed in Emerald network (European protecting net), it is also UNESCO's World Heritage List candidate, as well as it has been proposed for the national park by IUCN Karst Task Force, but both of proposals are frosted from the beginning. Protecting Vjetrenica has been straightly supported by IUNC Task Force for Karst and Cave and by International Organization for Subterranean Biology, among others.

Our aims are to reevaluate Vjetrenica values in the light of up to date information and modern ecosystem view of modern societies. On that base we ask to make organization of Vjetrenica which could serve all duties as protecting area, to serve UNESCO candidacy procedure, establishing national park and other plans. That should be organizing on the high state level of Bosnia and Herzegovina, not to be easy target of irresponsible local authority.

So we ask for support to save the most diverse cave in the world.

Speleological Society Vjetrenica-Popovo polje

88370 Ravno, Bosnia-Herzegovina
e-mail: ivo@vjetrenica.com

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