Work is underway to restore access to a 'globally important' ancient site on the Jurassic Coast.

The Fossil Forest, part of the Lulworth Estate and within the military ranges, shows evidence of a forest which grew there around 145 million years ago.

The site has been closed since 2015 following a large rock fall that damaged the steps leading to the forest.

Dorset Highways is working to repair the steps whilst the ranges are open during the summer holidays. The repair project is described as 'complex'.

When the ranges were open at Easter, Vertical Technology Ltd fitted netting over the cliff face above the steps and a fence. Natural England granted one-off consent for this preventative measure to reduce damage from falling rocks in future.

The access project now underway will also improve an area near the top, providing seating and interpretation panels for those who might not be able to climb down and back up the 97 steps to see the algal burrs – strange rounded shapes where the fossilised remains of tree trunks once stood.

Two large fossilised pieces of wood have been donated by Albion Stone on Portland and will be on display in the upper viewing area.

Any remaining work that does not happen over the summer will take place during the autumn when the ranges are open at weekends. It is expected the improved steps and viewing area will be open for all visitors by the end of the year.

The Fossil Forest Access project is part of the Dorset Coastal Connections portfolio of 18 projects, coordinated by Dorset Coast Forum, which aims to support and boost the economies of our coastal areas.

James Weld of the Lulworth Estate said: “We are extremely delighted Fossil Forest will be accessible once again and are pleased to be working closely with all parties involved, to ensure the experience will be of great value, both as an educational tool and as somewhere to visit on this unique and stunning World Heritage Site."

James Nevitt, Senior Access & Recreation Advisor for the Ministry of Defence said: “The MOD is committed to protecting our heritage and is always keen to engage in positive collaborative working to deliver a positive outcome.

"We recognise the significance of this site and it will be fantastic to see it reopened after what has been a complex project to deliver.”