Dorset and East Devon Coast

Overview

Heritage Category:
World Heritage Site
List Entry Number:
1000101
Date first listed:
2001
Date of most recent amendment:
2010

Map

Ordnance survey map of Dorset and East Devon Coast
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Summary

The cliff exposures along the Dorset and East Devon coast provide an almost continuous sequence of rock formations spanning the Mesozoic Era, or some 185 million years of the earth's history. The area's important fossil sites and classic coastal geomorphologic features have contributed to the study of earth sciences for over 300 years.

This site is also known as The Jurassic Coast and is England's only natural World Heritage Site. Its coordinates are N50 42 20 W2 59 23.6 and it measures 2,550 hectares.

There is a World Heritage Site Management Plan for the World Heritage Site (2009) and implementation of the objectives and action plan is undertaken by a World Heritage Site team in Dorset County Council. A Steering Group made up of key stakeholders oversees World Heritage activities.

Criteria

This entry is compiled from information provided by UNESCO who hold the official record for all World Heritage Sites at their Paris Head Quarters. This entry is provided for information only and those requiring further assistance should contact the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO.

Criterion (viii): The coastal exposures along the Dorset and East Devon coast provide an almost continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning the Mesozoic Era and document approximately 185 million years of Earth's history. The property includes a range of globally significant fossil localities - both vertebrate and invertebrate, marine and terrestrial - which have produced well preserved and diverse evidence of life during Mesozoic times. It also contains textbook exemplars of coastal geomorphological features, landforms and processes. Renowned for its contribution to Earth science investigations for over 300 years, the Dorset and East Devon coast has helped foster major contributions to many aspects of geology, palaeontology and geomorphology and has continuing significance as a high quality teaching, training and research resource for the Earth sciences.

Legal

Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

This was approved in 2010 by the World Heritage Committee in Brasilia.

Brief synthesis

The Dorset and East Devon Coast has an outstanding combination of globally significant geological and geomorphological features. The property comprises eight sections along 155 km of largely undeveloped coast. The property's geology displays approximately 185 million years of the Earth's history, including a number of internationally important fossil localities. The property also contains a range of outstanding examples of coastal geomorphological features, landforms and processes, and is renowned for its contribution to earth science investigations for over 300 years, helping to foster major contributions to many aspects of geology, palaeontology and geomorphology. This coast is considered by geologists and geomorphologists to be one of the most significant teaching and research sites in the world.

Criterion (viii): The coastal exposures along the Dorset and East Devon coast provide an almost continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning the Mesozoic Era and document approximately 185 million years of Earth's history. The property includes a range of globally significant fossil localities - both vertebrate and invertebrate, marine and terrestrial - which have produced well preserved and diverse evidence of life during Mesozoic times. It also contains textbook exemplars of coastal geomorphological features, landforms and processes. Renowned for its contribution to Earth science investigations for over 300 years, the Dorset and East Devon coast has helped foster major contributions to many aspects of geology, palaeontology and geomorphology and has continuing significance as a high quality teaching, training and research resource for the Earth sciences.

Integrity

The property contains all the key, interdependent elements of geological succession exposed on the coastline. It includes a series of coastal landforms whose processes and evolutionary conditions are little impacted by human activity, and the high rate of erosion and mass movement in the area creates a very dynamic coastline which maintains both rock exposures and geomorphological features, and also the productivity of the coastline for fossil discoveries. The property comprises eight sections in a near-continuous 155 km of coastline with its boundaries defined by natural phenomena: on the seaward side the property extends to the mean low water mark and on the landward side to the cliff top or back of the beach. This is also in general consistent with the boundaries of the nationally and internationally designated areas that protect the property and much of its setting. Due to the high rate of erosion and mass movement, it is important to periodically monitor the boundaries of the properties to ensure that significant changes to the shoreline are registered.

Protection and management requirements

The property has strong legal protection, a clear management framework and the strong involvement of all stakeholders with responsibilities for the property and its setting. A single management plan has been prepared and is coordinated by the Dorset and Devon County Councils. There is no defined buffer zone as the wider setting of the property is well protected through the existing designations and national and local planning policies. In addition to its geological, paleontological and geomorphological significance, the property includes areas of European importance for their habitats and species which are an additional priority for protection and management. The main management issues with respect to the property include: coastal protection schemes and inappropriate management of visitors to an area that has a long history of tourism; and the management of ongoing fossil collection research, acquisition and conservation. The key requirement for the management of this property lies in continued strong and adequately resourced coordination and partnership arrangements focused on the World Heritage property.

World Heritage Site inscribed by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in 2001.

End of official listing

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