Western Kentucky University, the George Wright Society, and the Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve invite you to attend Conservation of Fragile Karst Resources: A Workshop on Sustainability and Community in Bowling Green, Kentucky to be held May 18-22, 2020.

The purpose of this meeting is to enhance communication and the sharing of ideas and resources between major international conservation and science programs that protect, study, or manage cave and karst resources. The meeting will bring together a diverse group of managers, scientists, educators, and community partners to share successes and challenges in promoting sustainability and community involvement while protecting fragile karst ecosystems.

All those interested in participating are welcome to join us. Below are major international conservation and science programs that will be represented:

Man and the Biosphere (MAB)
World Heritage Convention (WHC)
Global Geopark Network (GGN)
UNESCO/IUGS International Geoscience Program Project #661 (IGCP)
International Association of Hydrogeologists Karst Commission (IAH KC)
International Research Center on Karst under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCK)
UNESCO International Hydrological Program (IGHP)
International Geographical Union Karst Commission (IGU KC)
World Karst Aquifer Map (WOKAM) Program
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
IUCN Cave and Karst Working Group

**Note that although the meeting will include participants from UNESCO programs, the workshop is not sanctioned by UNESCO or the U.S. government.


Panel 1

Our team

Planning Committee

Lee Anne Bledsoe, Crawford Hydrology Laboratory, Western Kentucky University
Chris Groves , Crawford Hydrology Laboratory, Western Kentucky University
Autumn Forschler, Crawford Hydrology Laboratory, Western Kentucky University
Emily Dekker-Fiala , George Wright Society
Dave Harmon, George Wright Society
Rick Toomey, Mammoth Cave National Park
Bruce Powell, Mammoth Cave National Park
Pat Kambesis, Cave Research Foundation, International Projects

Advisory Committee

Augusto Auler
Chair, IAH Karst Commission 
Instituto do Carste & Carste Consultores Associados
Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Alice Aureli 
Section Chief, Groundwater Systems and Settlements Section
Coordinator, Transboundary Aquifers Management Programme
UNESCO – Division of Water Sciences, International Hydrological Program

Zhang Cheng
Co-chair, IAH Karst Commission
UNESCO/IUGS IGCP Scientific Council
Karst Dynamics Laboratory
Ministry of Land and Resources
Guilin, China

Vanja Debevec
Head of Research and Development
Karst Biosphere Reserve
Skocjan Caves Park, Slovenia

Sarah Gaines
U.S. Geoheritage/Geoparks Advisory Group
Coastal Resource Center
University of Rhode Island
Rhode Island, USA

Tom Gilbert
National Park Service (retired)
Southern Appalachian MAB
Tennessee, USA

Nico Goldscheider
Professor, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Institute of Applied Geosciences
Division of Hydrogeology
Karlsruhe, Germany

John Gunn
Professor, University of Birmingham
Chair, Cave and Karst Specialist Group
Deputy Chair, Geoheritage Specialist Group
IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas
Birmingham, UK

Jim Lamoreaux
Chairman and Vice President
PELA GeoEnvironmental
Alabama, USA

Clayton Ferreira Lino
Brazilian Biosphere Reserve Network
President, National Council of Mata Atlântica Biosphere Reserve, Brazil

Cliff McCreedy
US Biosphere Reserve Program
National Park Service
Washington D.C., USA

Geary Schindel
Chief Technical Officer
Edwards Aquifer Authority
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Zoran Stevanovic
Co-chair, IAH Karst Commission
Centre for Karst Hydrogeology,
Department of Hydrogeology
Faculty of Mining & Geology,
University of Belgrade
Belgrade, Serbia

Елена Трофимова
Chair, IGU Karst Commission
Senior Researcher,
Laboratory of Geomorphology
Institute of Geography
Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, Russia

Barclay Trimble
Mammoth Cave National Park
Chair, Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve Advisory Council
Kentucky, USA

Benjamin Tobin
Karst Hydrogeologist
Kentucky Geological Survey
University of Kentucky

George Veni 
Executive Director,
National Cave and Karst Research Institute
President, UIS Bureau
New Mexico, USA

Jiang Zhongcheng
Co-director, Institute of Karst Geology
Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences
Guilin, China




Panel 2



Friday, May 15 – Sunday May 17: Pre-meeting Field Excursion at Mammoth Cave

Monday, May 18:  Registration and Welcome Reception

Tuesday, May 19: Technical Sessions 

Wednesday, May 20: Field Excursions in Mammoth Cave Area Biosphere Reserve

Thursday, May 21: Workshop Sessions 

Join us in thematic workshops to facilitate collaboration between international resource protection programs and to inform karst conservation, sustainable development, and community involvement efforts in the world’s premier karst regions.  Workshops can follow various formats. To submit a workshop proposal, please see Call for Abstracts/Proposals.

Friday, May 22: Meeting Adjourns



Panel 3


Full registration includes:

  • Entrance to all sessions and workshops
  • Meeting program, commemorative pint glass, and lunch each day
  • Airport Shuttle from Nashville, Monday, May 18 (2 time options)
  • Welcome reception, Monday, May 18
  • Poster session and reception, Tuesday, May 19
  • Field excursion, Wednesday, May 20
  • Dinner, tour, and local music, Hidden River Cave, Wednesday, May 20
  • Closing Banquet, Lost River Cave, Thursday, May 21
  • Airport Shuttle to Nashville, Friday, May 22 (2 time options)
shown in USD
Early Bird After January 31, 2020
Full Registration $450 $500
Student Registration $225 $275
Single-day Registration $150 $200
Guest Registration $350 $400
Low Income Economy Registration* $350 $400

*For residents from low or lower-middle income economies as defined by the World Bank.  Are you or your organization interested in sponsoring a student or low income economy registration? See our call for sponsors for more information.

Student registration offers full registration at a discounted rate for any person enrolled full-time in a degree-seeking program. Single-day registration allows entry to all events for that day only. Guest registration allows entry into evening social events only, field excursion with lunch, and airport shuttle. Guest must accompany a full registrant.

Are you or your organization interested in sponsoring a student or low income economy registration? See our call for sponsors for more information.

Please note: Your conference registration will not take effect until payment is received by the GWS office.  If you want to take advantage of the early bird discount, your payment must be received on or before January 31, 2020. 

We strongly encourage payment at time of registration to secure your field trip options as these will be filled on a first-come, first serve basis.

If another entity or someone other than yourself is paying your registration fees, please provide contact information for that person in the ‘special instructions’ on the registration form. Your registration in not confirmed without payment.

Official invitation letters are available upon request. Please contact unescokarst2020@gmail.com.

Register Here!


Panel 4

Call for Abstracts

*****Abstract Submission Deadline for POSTER PRESENTATIONS extended to DECEMBER 20, 2019.*****

Promoting sustainability and community while protecting fragile karst ecosystems.

Want to share your research, program highlights, insights, and your enthusiasm for caves and karst?  We look forward to getting an abstract or proposal from you!  To submit an abstract for poster presentation, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Learn about our results-focused conference framework.

Meetings must provide value to attendees and their sponsoring organizations. This meeting is designed to deliver take-home benefits.  The process begins with you: when you submit a proposal, we ask you to be specific about what your session or presentation is trying to achieve, and what benefits attendees can expect to take home with them.

You can submit abstracts/proposals in five categories:  Paper (Oral Presentation), Poster, Flash-talk, Workshop, and/or Business Meeting.

Papers are 20-minute oral presentations (15 minutes for presentation, 5 for questions), usually (but not necessarily) accompanied by PowerPoint slides. PowerPoint presentations should be created with a Standard aspect ratio of 4:3. If accepted for presentation. Papers are grouped together by the Planning Committee according to topic to make up a session. Technical sessions will be held on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Posters are graphically oriented presentations that may be displayed horizontally or vertically. Maximum dimensions of poster boards are 48 inches wide and 72 inches tall, please design your poster accordingly.  The Poster Session/Reception will take place on Tuesday evening at the the Kentucky Museum.

*Please note that you can have your poster printed at the meeting venue if you prefer. You must contact the WKU Print Center prior to the meeting and then pay with credit card or cash at time of pick-up. The WKU Print Center is in the same building as our meeting making pick-up simple. One note is that one dimension of the poster cannot exceed 42″ (107 cm).  Typical poster size is 36″ (91cm) X 48″ (122cm) and costs approximately $75 USD.

Flash Talks are 5-minute presentations can be in any format—PPTs, videos, plain talks, whatever.  These are fast-paced, exciting overviews, with individual presentations introducing various aspects of the session’s topic. These are organized into 45 minute topical sessions and consist of six 5-minute presentations rounded out by 15 minutes of Q&A with the audience. The outcome is that audience members come away energized and intrigued to learn more. If accepted for the meeting, flash-talks are grouped together by the Planning Committee according to topic to make up a session. Scheduling depends on submissions.

Workshops are 1.5-hour blocks of time that you organize in order to achieve a specific outcome.  Workshop sessions will take place on Thursday, May 21, 2020.  As these are intended for small groups, rooms that seat 40 or less people will be assigned. Find more information about organizing your workshop here.

Business Meetings focus exclusively on programmatic or other business-oriented discussions.   Because Business Meetings are intended to be for smaller groups, they will be assigned to rooms that seat no more than 30 people.

Step 2: Learn about how the Conference Committee selects proposals and puts together the conference program.

The meeting is organized by a Committee convened by WKU, GWS, and the MCABR. The Committee organizes plenary sessions, but all the remaining conference sessions, are drawn from proposals you submit.  Selection is based on several factors:

  • First and foremost, the quality of the proposal, in terms of both content and presentation.
  • Whether the proposal will deliver the outcome being proposed.
  • The goal of including a wide range of interests and disciplines in the overall conference program.
  • The goal of representing the philosophy of the overall conference program.
  • The need to make concurrent sessions internally coherent.

The Conference Committee discourages proposals for workshop sessions that focus on a single park, biosphere reserve, world heritage site, etc. unless the proposal explicitly describes how the information presented will be relevant to other areas.

Step 3: Decide which format best suits your needs; then, review guidelines and instructions and submit your proposal. 

The George Wright Society is managing abstract and proposal submission,  please follow this link: http://www.georgewright.org/karst_2020_abstract to submit your abstract or proposal. 

Abstract Submission Deadline for POSTER PRESENTATIONS only extended to DECEMBER 20, 2019. You will be notified of acceptance by January 1, 2020 and must register by February 28, 2020 to be included in the meeting program.