The Bridport Arts Centre was the venue for the Fifth Jurassic Coast Annual Seminar on December 16th. The event is normally held each December to review the year and explore in more detail a theme of relevance to the World Heritage Site.
Past Annual Seminars have looked at areas such as the arts or community and business engagement, and the event is always intended to be a thank you for stakeholders and individuals along the coast who play such a large part in conserving and protecting the World Heritage Site.
This year’s title was “Lost life: future fossils” and was looking at what we can learn from the ancient biodiversity of the Jurassic Coast to help us better understand today’s threats to global biodiversity. It was also part of the programme of events happening to mark International Year of Biodiversity; to find out more go to www.biodiversityislife.net.
But before the main part of the event, I gave a short presentation to sum up the year by showing extracts from the JurassicNews twitter feed, including snippets about our home-grown UK Young Scientist of the Year, and the Radcliffe and Maconie radio 2 Jurassic Coast Walk. To find out more, go to www.twitter.com/jurassicnews and FOLLOW US!
This was followed by the first Jurassic Coast Award presentations, which want to Richard Edmonds, Earth Science Manager for the Jurassic Coast, and Norah Jaggers and Pat Farrell from Beer Village Heritage. The awards are described elsewhere in this edition of the Jurassic Post.
Moving on to biodiveristy, we were lucky enough to have three excellent speakers talking about different aspects of the theme, and a delegation from the Thomas Hardye School fossil club. The talks were led off by Dr David Martill a Palaeontologist from Portsmouth University who has a particular penchant for Pterosaurs. The parting line of David’s excellent and entertaining talk was “don’t get sentimental, all species come and go!”. David was followed by an excellent short film from the school club about their quest to identify a fossil bone. We will try to get this on our website very soon.
The next speaker was Prof Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of Kew Gardens and holder of the Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross, no less. Ghillean talked about present day extinction and how man’s impact on biodiversity is potentially at a far faster rate than any extinction rate seen in the fossil record.
This lead nicely onto Sebastian Brooke, a Weymouth-trained stone carver who is Director of the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory project (MEMO – www.memoproject.org), a unique initiative to carve all known extinct species in a monument made from Portland Stone, on Portland. Watch out for more on the MEMO project in a later Jurassic Post.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable and thought-provoking, if slightly chilly, evening and left us wondering how we can raise the stakes again in 2011 – the 10th anniversary of the Jurassic Coast’s designation as a World Heritage Site.