Jurassic Coast 10 Year Anniversary

Jurassic Coasts 10th Birthday

Jurassic Coasts 10th Birthday

Dorset and East Devon’s unique coastline makes another bit of history this month, as it completes 10 years as one of the most celebrated locations on Earth.

The Jurassic Coast was formally designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2001, placing it alongside the likes of the Grand Canyon and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as one of the planet’s greatest natural treasures.

And the anniversary will be marked on Tuesday 13 December and Wednesday 14 December with a series of free guided walks and free entry into Jurassic Coast museums including Lyme Regis, Bridport, Portland, Wareham and Swanage in Dorset, and Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton and Honiton in Devon.

Dorset County Council, Devon County Council and the Dorset Coast Forum led the work to achieve World Heritage Site status, and the two councils jointly fund on-going work to protect, conserve and improve understanding of the Site.

As well as triggering renewed interest in the area’s fossil-rich geology, the status has brought major boosts for local tourism, business, visitor facilities, transport and arts projects.

And legendary natural history film-maker Sir David Attenborough said the past decade was well worth celebrating. He commented:

“The World Heritage Site is an extremely prestigious but well-earned distinction for the Jurassic Coast. It is indeed of worldwide importance and a place of great fascination to anyone interested in the history of life on this planet.  Let us hope that on this, the tenth anniversary of its granting, we do our best not only to maintain but improve the ways by which we enable visitors to understand its significance.”
The spectacular layers of rock exposed along the 95 miles of coast between Exmouth in east Devon and Studland in Dorset record 185 million years of earth history.

As cliffs continue to erode, internationally-important fossil finds continue to be rescued from the beaches – most recently the 2.4m pliosaur skull unveiled by Sir David at the Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, in July.

But the World Heritage Site status has inspired and led to a host of other benefits, including:

•the creation of a world-class identity that links Dorset and East Devon together, and connects them with other World Heritage Sites
•the award-winning X53 Jurassic Coast bus service, which grew from 80,000 passengers in 2001 to 500,000 in 2010
•an increase in off-peak and overseas visitors, and a boost for businesses
•popular arts and community events such as the annual Lyme Regis Fossil Festival
•new and improved geology collections and displays in local museums
•education links, with more than 1,500 teachers incorporating the coast into school lessons.
Visitor facilities are also being created or upgraded along the coast, including Durlston Country Park (Swanage), Chesil Beach (Portland), Seaton and Orcombe Point, Exmouth.

And local community charities have benefited, as well. Marcus Dixon, of the

Lyme Regis Development Trust, said:

“The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site has been central to our strategy of establishing the area as an internationally significant education destination, and so building a sustainable year-round economy.  We have run a series of annual fossil festivals and are currently working with The Field Studies Council, Jurassic Coast Team and The Natural History Museum to establish the Jurassic Coast Studies Centre.”

As well as museums providing free admission for the day, the anniversary on 13 December will also be marked by a series of free guided walks and other events at various locations along the coast. These include Lulworth, Charmouth, Portland, Abbotsbury and Durlston Country Park (Swanage) in Dorset, plus Branscombe and Beer in Devon.

Dorset County Council Cabinet member for environment Robert Gould said: “The World Heritage site designation was a landmark moment.

“It gave Dorset a global profile and, ten years on, we are reaping some tremendous benefits. And I’m sure this is just the beginning.”

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