Professor reports to UNESCO on Mammoth Cave/WKU partnership

University Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology Chris Groves has returned from Paris, France, where he reported on activities of the Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve (MCABR) at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The MCABR was established in 1990 under the auspices of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program to recognize the global significance of the cave system and surrounding landscape, and to achieve sustainable development that improves the economic and social well-being of local people in a way that is compatible with conservation values. The national park serves as the core area of the reserve, and the outer zones include parts of six counties.

Along with WKU faculty members Dr. Stuart Foster and Dr. Katie Algeo, Dr. Groves serves as a member of the MCABR Advisory Council, a group that includes officials from the Park, as well as local, state and federal government representatives and other local stakeholders.

Dr. Groves’ May 3 presentation, called “Local to Global Partnerships: The UNESCO Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve Kentucky,” was given to scientists and managers from several different UNESCO conservation programs, and outlined both the history of the reserve and ongoing activities. Since 1999, for example, Mammoth Cave National Park and WKU have hosted four UNESCO-sponsored conferences here that have attracted scientists and students from more than 40 countries. This has been a great benefit to the WKU community, allowing students, faculty and staff to interact with many leading cave and environmental experts from throughout the world.

On the trip Dr. Groves also spent several days in Belgium as a guest of the “Centre belge d’Études karstologiques,” giving lectures at several Belgian universities on the geology of Mammoth Cave and another on results of related hydrogeology and geochemistry research. He and his Belgian colleagues visited three caves within the Famenne-Ardenne Geopark, another world-class karst region that has been designated by UNESCO.

Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Barclay Trimble, Chair of the MCABR, noted that Dr. Groves has made significant contributions. “Dr. Groves continues to emphasize the importance of the internationally significant karst landscape in South Central Kentucky. With this focus, he has worked diligently for many years to build international partnerships, which in turn brings distinction and support to Mammoth Cave National Park, Western Kentucky University and the surrounding communities in the MCABR. We applaud Dr. Groves for the success he has achieved.” 

Contact: Chris Groves, (270) 745-5974

Posted with permission from WKU News