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Madeira Laurel Forest one of the most well conserved in the world

Levadas, Treks and TrailsMadeira

by: Andreia Rodrigues10 July 2017, Monday

Madeira Island Laurel forest

The Madeira island Laurel forest, is at present the remnant of a primitive forest cover that has resisted five centuries of humanization.

What is the Laurel Forest?

The Laurel forest, a unique subtropical humid forest, dates back to the Tertiary Period, when it occupied vast areas of southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin. Advancing glaciers were the main causes for its almost total extinction, and the only places it persisted was on the so called Fortunate (Macaronesia) Islands, more specifically, in the archipelagos of Madeira, Azores and the Canary Islands.

The Laurel forest is usually characterized by the predominance of trees belonging to the Lauraceae family, such as the Bay Laurel Larus novocanariensis, the Fetid Laurel Ocotea foetens, the Madeira Mahogany Persea indica and the Canary Laurel Apollonias barbujana.

Madeira Island

Besides these, there are other species which are not laurels but are associated to this forest. This unique group of flora represent, respectively, about 15% and 9% of the endemic species of Madeira and of Macaronesia region.

In addition, it contains a large biodiversity of fauna, thus presenting many endemisms. Here it is common to find a large range of arthropods, butterflies, acarus, terrestrial molluscs (snails and slugs), few reptiles and mammals.

Madeira Laurel Forest

Madeira has the most extensive and well conserved Laurel forest of the world, it occupies around 15 000 hectares of the island, and is totally included in the Madeira Natural Park as an Integral and Partial Nature Reserve.

Due to its scientific importance, and as an attempt to value the region, the Laurel forest has been distinguished as a Special Protection Area by the Wild Birds Directive and as Site of Community Interest of the Habitats Directive. Its worldwide recognition results from these well-known epithets: The Biogenetic Reserve recognized by the European Council in 1992, and the World Natural Heritage decreed by UNESCO in 1999.

Come and feel it!

Trace the flow of water within the Laurel forests of Madeira. Hike along ancient water channels “Levadas” and incredible vistas on Madeira island.

For more advanced hikers, we recommend Pico do Arieiro/ Pico Ruivo Trail. Beginners can start with Levada dos Balcões/ Ribeiro Frio. Be prepared for waterfalls, lush forests and awe.

Andreia Rodrigues | Intertours

Andreia Rodrigues

I embraced this project in 1998 and since then it has been a great challenge. Creativity, experience, dedication and professionalism are some of our strengths. Let us plan your next dream vacation!

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