|Date||4 Dec 2006|
Eunapius subterraneus, the only subterranean freshwater sponge in the world, lives in the Ogulin karst area (Croatia), which is one of the world's top ten endangered karst ecosystems according to the Karst Waters Institute, USA. Despite being research at the local level, it has global importance. By treating Eunapius as an "umbrella species" is a step towards achieving the main goal, which is the protection of sources of drinking water and the entire subterranean fauna of the area.
The results from the previous Rufford Small Grant are disturbing from the conservation point of view and indicate that there are a great number of sources of endangerment. The scientific results, such as discovery of new species, new information on living areas (altogether 12 sites), extremely high subterranean biodiversity on the global level with the species from the IUCN List, from the Red List of the Endangered Plants and Animals in Croatia, from the "Fauna – Flora Habitat" (cave salamander (Proteus anguinus), the famous subterranean animal) highlight the necessity for research and conservation of the entire region. The clean karst groundwater is not only important for the groundwater fauna, but is also a very important source of drinking water, and provides the bases for the sustainable development of the area. Although the entire Croatian underground fauna is legally protected, active conservation is still vague and without a real governmental strategy. There is no state strategy on groundwater tracing, and it is highly unlikely that one will be drawn up in the near future.
Two main paths are planned to achieve the main goal. The first is the conservation through raising of the level of public awareness, and the second is the scientific research. The scientific research will produce a necessary expert explanation of the proposal for the legal protection of the Ogulin area as a Biospeleological Reservation at the state level, taking into account the high biodiversity and endangerment level. Moreover, the most important localities will be proposed for the protection as a Biospeleological Monument taking into account the high biodiversity and importance of species at the state and EC levels.
Read about Jana's previous project http://www.ruffordsmallgrants.org/rsg/Projects/JanaBedek or for more information contact: