Subterranean Ramsar site in the Slovak Republic
Slovak Republic designates 35-km long cave system
The Ramsar Secretariat is delighted to announce that the Slovak Republic has designated as its 14th Wetland of International Importance, as of 17 November 2006, a remarkable karst cave system that is part of the Low Tatra National Park, near the city of Liptovský Mikulas. The Caves of the Demanova Valley (Jaskyne Demänovskej doliny) (1,448 hectares, 48°59'N, 019°35'E) is part of the longest cave system in the country with a total measured length of 35,044 meters.
The system consists of nine speleologically interconnected caves and further associated smaller caves. Hydrological and hydrogeological characteristics of the territory influence the underground wetlands supporting suitable conditions for the existence of rare and endangered water invertebrates as well as terrestrial organisms that are dependent on these water areas. The majority of the above-ground forests are under a nature protection scheme. Due to the karst structure the area replenishes water-bearing layers that form part of an underground hydrological system and aquifer, which provides the most important source of drinking water for the city of Liptovský Mikulas. Surface wetland habitats also support important amphibian populations.
Two of the caves, the Demanovska Cave of Liberty and Demanovska Ice Cave, are open for public visits. Beyond these attractions, the intensive use of the valley for tourists' recreation activities and facilities, such as chalets, ski tows and cable-cars, increasing traffic and road constructions, are affecting the underground waters quality negatively. Ongoing research activities covering a range of geo-scientific disciplines are intended to improve the protection, especially of biotic components, such as endemic species.
There are presently 153 Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, and 1631 wetlands have been designated as Ramsar sites, covering an area of 145,622,310 hectares.
-- Dorothea August, Ramsar