Jaskinie regionu świętokrzyskiego i ich ochrona

Jan Urban, Jacek Gubała, Andrzej Kasza



The recently completed inventory of the caves in the Holy Cross Mts region, Central Poland, gives an opportunity to recapitulate the state of scientific studies as well as to conclude the state of their protection. Among 132 registered caves (also natural shafts, rocks shelters and tunnels) only 12 % are longer than 20 m, 30% are longer than 10 m. The total length of the caves reaches 5720 m. Chelosiowa Jama-Jaskinia Jaworznicka cave (3670 m) is the longest one. Karst caves constitute 68% of total cave number and 96 % of their total length. They predominantly occur in the Devonian limestone and concentrate in western part of the Paleozoiccore of the Holy Cross Mts in Kielce and Chęciny vicinities (Tab. 1, Fig. 1). Majority ofthem have been opened during quarrying - less frequently - during subsurface mining. They represent empty fragments of old, mainly Neogene karstic systems. Lower levels of these systems were reconstructed during the Pleistocene glaciations to a different degree. Pseudokarst caves occur predominandy in the Triassic and Jurassicsandstones outcropping in the northern part of the region (Tab. 1, Fig. 1). Two general genetic types were distinguished: 1) caverns generated by erosion (mainly subsurface water erosion) and weathering, 2) voids resulting from gravitational movements ofblocks on the slopes (Fig. 2,3). They have been formed in the Neopleistocene and the Holocene. Caves represent specific places of development of geological (geomorphological) forms as well as ecosystems with biological communitiesnot encountered on theEarthsurface. Theyarealsoimportant sites of scientific studies and elements of our environment All these aspects should be taken into account for their ecological evaluation. The caves in the Holy Cross Mts are threatened mainly with industry and urbanization. Especially, quarrying causes their physical destruction. But their internal forms, microclimate and biological communites are damaged by human penetration, pollution spilling and even garbage dumping (Fig. 4). The law protection is the best way to stop destruction caused by industry and urban development. Most of the caves in the region have been already protected (Tab. 1), but some more should be taken under formal protection. The preventive measures against devastation of caves interior are more complex and sometimes difficult to apply. Touristic use under control (example: Raj cave) is one of rather efficient methods of protecting internal geological forms within the caves. Closing cave entrances is controversial way of conservation, because it causes microclimatic changes and faunal flora menaces, but it is necessary to apply in some objects. Indirect ways, especially public policy for ecological education and promotion of cave values should be developed.

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