Man is not a pot that can be filled,
but a torch that must be set on fire.

               Albert Einstein

Dear karst fans,

On behalf of the Experimental Laboratory of Karstology at NIGG-BAS and the Organizing Committee of the first International Karst Science Competition for Students, I have the honor and the pleasure to invite you to participate. Bulgaria and the amazing Bulgarian karst are looking forward to meet you!

If something is not known, it cannot be evaluated. Karst is a unique natural phenomenon. But it is not just an attraction, it is linked to the lives of millions of people around the world who live and work in karst territories. It is a pity, but most of them barely know their "home" and are a little interested in its condition. And when you do not appreciate what you have, you bring it to ruins, you bring yourself to poverty, especially spiritual poverty.

Through our long-standing research practice, we have strived to teach people about karst and its specifics, fragility and vulnerability. We targeted especially young people, on whom the future of this planet depends. For most of them karst is still "terra incognita", but if they want to get to more about it, they discover an amazing world that captivates young discoverers.

Karst, and especially its underground palaces - the caves, are the last "white spots" of our Earth. They are the great challenge for researchers both current and future ones. Because karst is complex geosystem, well visible for the professional, which can offer a model for solving a large part of the problems caused by the global changes.

In recent months, we have all witnessed the commendable activity of European students in protecting the nature of the Earth from the harmful effects of ill-considered and uncontrolled human activity. This competition is another opportunity for students, through their knowledge and skills, to show concern about the planet's karst systems and to draw the attention of politicians and rulers to the neglected problems of sustainable development of karst territories. Let's give this chance to young karst connoisseurs!

Through the regulation of this first and different from the International Olympiads competition, we offer the participants creative freedom to express their karst knowledge and skills and to demonstrate them in actual contact with the karst environment. We appeal to all teachers who are not indifferent to karst, please help your students, who are attracted to the challenges of karst and field research, to team up and prepare to participate in this competition.

They deserve another opportunity to show what they know and what they can. We also call all professionals in Karstology and Speleology who can and want to be team mentors – please popularize the competition among the teachers and students you have contacts with and please help them get inspired in the preparation. The success of this first competition of this kind will be a successful step towards its future as a new innovative form of education about//through karst.

Karst can teach us a lot. But we can, and must, render what it deserves...
Together we can do more!
We are waiting for you in sunny Bulgaria!

Petar Stefanov