A unique partnership between Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust (JCRT) has led to an Australian first in tertiary study.
Distance education students will spend this week at the Wombeyan Caves, in Central West New South Wales, for the first residential school - study that will lead to a graduate certificate in karst management.
Karst, according to head of CSU's environmental studies unit Dr Al Gibbs, is material comprised substantially of soluble rocks such as limestone or dolomite. Karst regions, he said, contain the majority of the important cave systems throughout the world.
"The course is one of few in the world that offers specialised training in karst management," Dr Gibbs said.
"These are the first students in the course and CSU is privileged to have had the support and cooperation of Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust in offering the course. This partnership is another excellent example of CSU forming partnerships with local bodies to meet national educational needs."
Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust General Manager Andrew Fletcher is equally enthusiastic about the course.
"The Trust is committed to developing and promoting a wider knowledge of karst conservation and management issues. The training provided by this course will ensure a high level of professionalism by karst managers of the future," he said.
Tim Stokes, a consultant with the Terra Firma Geoscience Services in British Columbia, Canada will attend this week's residential school.