Škocjan Caves mark 30th anniversary of UNESCO listing
Soon after the Škocjan Caves' entry on the list in 1986, Slovenia began its efforts to establish the Škocjan Caves Regional Park, which would ensure state protection of the caves' delicate ecosystem, said Ščuka.
The Škocjan Caves Regional Park Act was adopted in 1996 and a year later, the Public Service Agency, which currently employs 22 people, began its operation as the Park's managing authority.
Now, 30 years later, the Škocjan Caves are still Slovenia's only natural site listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. They are thus an important Slovenian tourist site visited by more than 100,000 visitors per year.
"Our concern with the park's recognition contributes much to this; we focus much on education about conservation. Our staff offer their knowledge every day to visitors who enjoy the beauties of the Karst underworld. We hope that they learn something about protecting the caves," said Ščuka.
The number of visitors to the caves has been increasing every year. This year's figure will be 10% higher than last year's, reaching 143,000 visitors. This summer, the Škocjan Caves set a new record, as they were visited by as many as 2,443 in a single day.
This is why the Škocjan Caves Regional Park is considering limiting the number of visitors. Ščuka said that it had been maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure ensuring a pleasant and orderly visit in line with nature conservation guidelines.
Apart from the anniversary of their entry in UNESCO's World Heritage List, the Škocjan Caves are also celebrating three other important anniversaries this year.
These are the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the park, the 17th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the caves' inclusion in UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere programme.