The Geo RoomGeomorphology

Definition of the Day
River Competence
The largest particle that can be carried by a river

Human Impact on Karst Landscape

Karst terrain is fragile and must be handled with care without altering the natural biodiversity. Humans have negatively altered karst landscapes for the past years. The impacts mainly include economical purposes such as mining and tourism.

Industrial Activities

Industrial gases lead to acid rain which in turn solutes karst landscape. Although these acid rains are responsible for carving out beautiful karst sceneries to some extent, increasing amounts of it are completely diluting karst terrains.

Soil Erosion

Agriculture along limestone terrains result in intensive soil erosion. The loose sediments can find their way underground and choke cave passages or underground streams.

Mining

Mining along limestone terrains eg for cements leaves the landscape degraded and unpleasant e.g. minining in Mt Erna in Queensland Australia has destroyed some beautiful cave systems. Moreover, the removal of vegetation for mining leads to soil erosion and affects the natural biodiversity around the karst terrain.

Tourism

Karst scenery such as caves has attracted a lot of people which has led to degraded caves as more and more carbon dioxide is exhaled which increases solution rates. In addition heat from cave lightings alters the natural atmosphere in caves and accelerate weathering processes. Artifical paths or stairs e.g concrete surfaces are impermable which alters the flow of underground streams or can divert streams to other areas which can dry caves.

Cave lighting
Cave Lighting, China, src: pexels

Conclusion

The increased dilution of karst scenery has raised the attention of many organizations e.g. the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Such organisations strive to provide methods for sustainable utilization of Karst Landscapes.
Other countries especially along the tropics are protecting and conserving certain karst areas e.g Malaysia and Cuba.
Read more:
IUCN, caves and karst protection
Protecting karst

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