THE VIRTUAL BATCAVE: A PROJECT FOR THE SAFEGUARD OF A UNESCO WHL FRAGILE ECOSYSTEM
This abstract illustrates an interdisciplinary research project which focuses on the study, conservation and enhancement, through 3D digitization and virtual fruition, of an asset of great naturalistic, historical and ethnoanthropological value: Grotta dei Pipistrelli of Pantalica Nature Reserve (Sortino, SR). The cave (located in the Calcinara necropolis) is characterized by a great beauty as well as by a high cultural relevance and a remarkable scientific importance. In 2005, it awarded the UNESCO World Heritage title for its high historic, archaeological and speleological profile. Despite the site is being studied by specialists in chiropterofauna, nowadays there is not a comprehensive and reliable documentation of the plano-altimetric morphology of the cave, able to constitute a 3D database of essential information (e.g. morphological, geological, textural and wildlife information) for current and future studies, and to preserve the memory of this fragile ecosystem. The process of 3D digitization aims to create a model of the cave that allows us to enjoy this place, to explore it and to closely understand it in order to limit the anthropic pressure caused by visitors on the real site. Consequently, it is proposed the creation of a virtual environment, as a reproduction of the real one, which can be enjoyed by all categories of users.