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November 9, 2023

US Embassy Ljubljana: 6th Annual GeoBioBlitz Karst Ecosystems, October 13, 2023

The 6th annual US Embassy Ljubljana GeoBioBlitz 2023 – Karst Ecosystems was an active program that unfolded on October 13th in Slovenia’s breathtaking Karst region. Expert leaders from both Slovenia and the United States, including many Fulbright Scholar alumni, orchestrated a program that emphasized dynamic, hands-on educational techniques, together with three Slovenian school groups.

The focus of this year’s venture was to illuminate the remarkable diversity, both in terms of biology and geography, within the Karst region. We aimed not only to showcase its unique attributes but also to underscore the pressing threats it faces due to climate change. Factors such as drought, increased forest fire risks, and the invasion of non-native species pose significant challenges.

Our journey commenced at the Karst Research Institute in Postojna, where participants gained a comprehensive overview of the Karst ecosystem. Moving forward, we ventured to the Vivarium at Postojna Cave Park, unveiling the captivating array of creatures inhabiting this peculiar cave ecosystem. From there, our expedition led us to Mirje-Cerje on the Karst plateau, where we delved into the intricacies of forest ecosystems. The area had been ravaged by devastating forest fires in July 2022. Witnessing the ongoing reforestation efforts by the Slovenia Forest Service, our group actively contributed by planting 25 trees, playing a small part in this remarkable restoration initiative.

Our Embassy-coordinated GeoBioBlitzes arose out of the concept of a bioblitz, a citizen science effort pioneered by the U.S. National Park Service and National Geographic. Indeed, the first U.S.-Slovenia GeoBioBlitz took place in 2016 on the auspicious occasion of the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service. The primary objective of bioblitzes is to educate about and document a wealth biodiversity within a specific area over a short period. But why GeoBioBlitzes, you ask? Well, it’s because there’s no bio without the geo! As UNESCO’s inaugural International Geodiversity Day noted on October 6, 2022: geodiversity is biodiversity’s silent partner. We were therefore very proud to feature this year’s GeoBioBlitz as part of Slovenia’s Geodiversity Day 2023 activities!

Thank you to our partners and school groups on this program: