Jenolan Caves

Somewhere, Something Incredible is Waiting to be Known ~ Carl Sagan

November 3, 2020

November 10 is World Science Day for Peace and Development.  The United Nations proclaimed this international day to highlight the relevance of science in our daily lives. 
Science is a fascinating field, defined as “the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world”. Is science relevant in everyday life? Yes, because ultimately scientific knowledge helps to satisfy many basic human needs and improve living standards for everyone. Science is currently working to solve the current COVID crisis, which effects everyone. And what about trending ‘green’ issues like climate change, endangered species, deforestation, pollution, water, loss of biodiversity, overpopulation and waste disposal, to name a few. These are all social problems that are constantly being worked on by scientists with the help of ordinary people.
At Jenolan, through fun, romance, adventure, and stories, we’ve been connecting people with the natural world since the early 1800s. People visit Jenolan for many reasons, and as we guide them through the spectacular caves and pristine reserve, we subtly highlight ‘science’ every day, without even trying.  That is because at Jenolan a range of sciences come into play – not only geology and palaeontology (fossils) but biology, ecology and environmental science. Our goal is to ‘protect and connect’ – to conserve one of Australia’s most amazing and fragile geological marvels, and associated wildlife, and to make it accessible, so that all can see how precious our environment is.  When visitors see how our spectacular caves and Australian flora and fauna are all worth preserving, they are inspired to help conserve our planet and ensure a future for humanity, even if only in a small way. 
For example, the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve has a thriving colony of endangered Brush-Tailed Rock Wallabies, which are carefully monitored by the National Parks & Wildlife Service. But with all the wallaby species in Australia, would it really matter if we lost one?  Yes, because all species interact in a 'web of life'. Every species, whether animal or vegetable, relies on other species to survive. Even the most tolerant species can ultimately succumb to extinction when a less-tolerant species, on which they depend, disappears. So saving one species means saving its habitat and the other species that live there too.  When you lose one species, the existence of other species around it gets a little bit more uncertain. Even if it’s not a species that others in an ecosystem depend on, its loss will weaken the entire ecosystem. If a species has a unique function in its ecosystem, its loss can prompt cascading effects through the food chain.  
And bats do important work in the food chain also. There are many bats at Jenolan, mainly a variety of microbat called the Eastern Bent-wing, a ‘vulnerable’ species.  You might spot a bat in one of our caves, out of the corner of your eye. They are very quick, but every night, the bats stream out of the caves to feast on insects, thereby keeping down nocturnal insect populations – all part of the web of life.
Have you heard of Citizen Science?  Anyone, of any age, can get involved in ‘scientific’ projects that are relevant and fun – even if just to get you outside and into nature.  Projects involve ordinary people (you) in generating new understanding. You may contribute, collaborate or even lead projects. Citizen science provides learning opportunities, personal enjoyment and social benefits. The research can be published, and outcomes might ultimately influence local, national or even international policies.  Citizen scientists (you) may participate in various stages of the scientific process - developing research questions, designing methods, gathering and analysing data, and communicating results.   See a selection of Citizen Science projects here.
Another related thing in which you can easily get involved is the Atlas of Living Australia, a collaborative, digital, resource that pulls together Australian biodiversity data from multiple sources, making it accessible to everyone. And anyone can contribute to it. For example, if you go to the Explore Your Area page and type in your address, a list will appear of all the lifeforms that have been recorded in that area. You will be astonished.  You can add to the list by registering on iNaturalistAU.
So on November 10, World Science Day for Peace and Development, consider the different ways that ‘science’ (studying the natural world) is relevant to you. Maybe you will feel inspired to visit Jenolan Caves and try out one of our new cave tour and hospitality packages. While you are at Jenolan, take a Spring ramble along one of our bushwalks and see how many species of birds, insects, lizards and marsupials you can spot.  Don’t forget your camera.
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4655 Jenolan Caves Road, Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains NSW. Ph: 1300 76 33 11 or +61 2 6359 3911

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