Natural England - West Dorset Coast SSSI

West Dorset Coast SSSI

Coastal cliffs and foreshore, exposure site, fossil collecting.

West Dorset Coast SSSI

The Jurassic coasts of Dorset and North Yorkshire are among the richest fossil resources in the country. Fossil collecting is extremely popular as countless fossils are eroded from the cliffs and, unless collected, many would be lost to the sea. However, without proper care and attention, the scientific value of fossils can be damaged or destroyed.

Dorset's Jurassic Coast Project

To address the management of the fossil resource on the Dorset Coast, a fossil collecting code of conduct and fossil recording scheme has been piloted as part of the Jurassic Coast Project. The Code of Conduct promotes best and safest practice encouraging collecting from the beach. Most innovative, however, has been the establishment of the fossil recording scheme. Fossils have been categorised according to their scientific value and rarity, and collectors are encouraged to centrally register their rarest finds at the Charmouth Coastal Heritage Centre. A photographic record is placed on a web-based databaseexternal link, which museums and researchers are being encouraged to view.

This scheme not only promotes best practice but also aims to increase the communication between collector and researcher - a key to the successful management of any fossil resource.

Yorkshire's Dinosaur Coast Project

In Yorkshire, the Dinosaur Coast Project has recently been established to conserve and promote the geological resource. Promotion will be through geological activities such as walks and workshops and the production of a popular geology guide to the coastal area, together with site based interpretation and displays. Taking a lead from Dorset, collecting guidance has been established and a fossil registration scheme is also being investigated, with the hope of bringing together the local network of museums, collectors and land managers.

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