A sustainability index for karst environments.
With growing populations and ever increasing pressure on resources, the need to live sustainably with our environment has increased in significance. When considering such anthropogenic pressures, karst landscapes are as vulnerable, if not more so, than any other environment. Such vulnerability arises from the rapid transit times of percolating water, the poor filtering ability of carbonate bedrock, and the highly specialized biota of subterranean karst. The Karst Sustainability Index (KSI) was created as a standardized metric of sustainable development practices in karst settings. The KSI uses predetermined targets to ascertain the overall sustainability of a karst region. Indicators are designed to incorporate common measures of sustainability for the three domains of social, environmental, and economic resource use. Benchmarking the current state of karst environments allows the comparison of sustainability practices temporally and spatially to highlight areas where remedial policies or actions are needed. This is the first index to incorporate the emerging field of environmental sustainability with karst landscape assessment. To test the applicability of the KSI, a study was undertaken in the Tampa Bay Metropolitan Area, which encompasses four counties that are entirely karst. The TBMA was found to be progressing towards the sustainable management of karst resources, and the KSI provided a robust measure of sustainability.
National Speleological Society
van Beynen, P., Brinkmann, R. & van Beynen, K. (2012). A sustainability index for karst environments. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, 74, 221-234. doi: 10.4311/2011SS0217
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