World Heritage status is not automatically given to a Site by the UK Government or the United National Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). All World Heritage Sites must be able to make a clear case for Outstanding Universal Value in order to be inscribed on the World Heritage List and that final decision is made by the World Heritage Committee.
“The Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site… holds outstanding evidence of the natural history of Earth and its processes.”
From the UNESCO inscription of the Jurassic Coast as a World Heritage Site in 2001.
In Dorset and East Devon the possibility that the coast could qualify for World Heritage status was first raised in public by Professor Denys Brunsden at a Lyme Bay Forum meeting in 1994. Support for the idea was given by Dorset and Devon County Councils and a Scientific Working Group was established comprising representatives of Councils, Universities, the British Geological Survey, Wildlife Trusts and Government agencies.
In 1998 a Statement of Intent by Dorset and Devon County Councils and the Dorset Coast Forum was published and sent to the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with the aim of getting the proposal included in the Government’s new Tentative List for UNESCO.
The proposal was finally included in the DCMS Tentative List in June 1999 and nomination documents and a Management Plan were prepared and submitted to UNESCO in June 2000. After an assessment visit in February 2001 by IUCN, UNESCO’s technical advisors for natural World Heritage Sites, the Dorset and East Devon Coast was inscribed on the World Heritage List in Helsinki on December 13th 2001.
The designation, and success of the subsequent programme of activities is a reflection of the outstanding contribution made by the organisations and individuals represented on the Steering Group that formulated the original Management Plan and that has subsequently overseen the work programme.