THIS dramatic picture of Studland Beach is testimony to the power of the storms that have battered Dorset’s coastline in recent weeks.

So much sand has been lost, albeit temporarily, from this Purbeck beauty spot, that a mini-cliff has formed near the shoreline.

If you walked the length of the beach, up to 10 metres of sand has been lost in places, as well as damage to a number of trees and dunes, says the National Trust.

The fierce conditions also caused a small landslide at Middle Beach and affected rocks surrounding one of Dorset’s most recognisable land-marks – Old Harry.

Elli MacDonald, who is working with the National Trust on the ‘Living with a Changing Coast’ project, said despite the rocks around Old Harry being affected, the chalk stack itself remains intact.

Elli, whose work is focused on how coastal change affects communities, believes the way forward at Studland is to work with the natural processes.

“We take the long view on adaptation to climate change and extreme weather,” she explained.

“Coastal change is inevitable, and the forces of nature are part of the beauty and appeal of our coast, so we want to work with the natural process wherever possible.”

Although the National Trust’s long-term position is to develop a plan for the sustainable management of coastal change at Studland, in the short-term workers have been clearing debris from the beach and ensuring visitor access is maintained.

Over time, Elli says, coastal infrastructure and facilities will be gradually ‘rolled back’ to less vulnerable positions, while allowing nature to create new sea defences such as sand bars and dunes.

The National Trust believes that it would be futile, and ultimately accelerate the erosion process, if attempts were made to hold back the waves at Studland.

• Bay closer to protection...

STUDLAND Bay is one step closer to enjoying protected Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) status, following an announcement from Defra yesterday.

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) welcomed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announcement confirming Studland is one of 37 new sites listed for possible protection.

There will be a second round of consultation in 2015 before the final MCZs are finally decided.

The government is working towards creating a network of marine protected areas.

DWT marine awareness officer Julie Hatcher said: “This is great news. Studland Bay is one of the most significant wildlife sites in the country and is nationally important as the only known breeding ground for both the spiny and short-snouted seahorse.

“As well as being home to a rich variety of species such as the native oyster, the extensive seagrass meadows provide a nursery area for important fish.”