It is my great pleasure that the 17th International Congress of Speleology will be held in Australia next year. I have visited Australia a number of times in the past, and for sure this is the place with fascinating landscapes and culture as well as a variety of fantastic caves and karst landforms.
To many of us, caves used to be just fun places to explore or to visit. However, it has been revealed past a few decades that caves also contain very important sites for scientific research. From stalagmites and cave sediments, Earth’s past climatic histories can be revealed back for a few million years. Obviously this significant information will help predict future climate changes. Fossils such as animal bones have been found in some caves, telling us much about the past environmental history on Earth. For example, in the Naracoorte Caves in Australia, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, are numerous animal bones in cave sediments. Also, archaeological remains such as human skeletons in caves give us significant information on human evolution. Moreover, microbiologists are making tremendous efforts to find new microbe species in caves which may enable the cure of some currently incurable diseases.
During this 17th ICS, various speleological sessions will be held to meet your various interests from basic caving skills, exploration activities of many fantastic caves in the world, to many topics in science. The UIS has five Departments. Among them the Department of Scientific Research includes 12 commissions focusing covering different fields in speleology. The Department of Karst and Cave Protection will discuss the conservation and effective management of wild and show caves. And the Department of Exploration will cover numerous caving activities. You will be able to experience full depth of caving and scientific activities during the ICS.
I am sure that it will be a truly unforgettable experience during your visit Australia, and I hope to see you all there.
Kyung Sik Woo
President, International Union of Speleology