A STONE monument on Portland to extinct species is being backed by celebrated author Philip Pullman.

Mr Pullman told the Echo that the scheme was a way of acknowledging the damage being done to the world’s environment.

The project would inject millions of pounds into the local economy and attract an extra 100,000 visitors a year to the area.

The project, which will cost £3million to £4million, will feature carvings of 850 species which have died out since the dodo in the late 17th century.

It will also act as a warning of the threat of an impending global extinction crisis with many more creatures under threat.

The circular monument of Portland stone would incorporate a bell that will be rung every year on May 22 – the International Day of Biodiversity.

Members of Dorset County Council’s cabinet have backed plans for the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory (MEMO) with a £30,000 special projects grant.

The rest of the funding for the scheme is expected to come from private donations, corporate sponsorship, charitable grants and in-kind contributions.

Acclaimed British writer Philip Pullman is among the high profile figures who have thrown their weight behind the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory project.

The His Dark Materials author told the Echo: “As the human race we are the first – as far as we know – species in the history of the universe to be conscious of what we are doing to our environment.

“It is our duty to keep a record of this so we can tell ourselves, our children and our grandchildren what we have done.

“It will act as a reminder to ourselves and our successors of all the species that have lived on their earth and the things that have happened to them.

“We are the only species that can do this.”

Mr Pullman said he commended Dorset County Council for backing the project.

A charitable trust has been set up to progress the scheme and has received backing from some high-profile bodies and individuals including the Royal Society, wildlife charity WWF UK and founder of the Eden Project Tim Smit, as well as Mr Pullman.

Mr Smit said: “We are seeking to build something that is a living monument to the fragility of life and the razor blade of existence we all live on.

“It will also stand as a testament to the hope that our actions also have an influence.

“A monument for our times, it will undoubtedly attract many visitors.”