The "Laurissilva", Madeira's Island native forest is a luxurious group of evergreen wooden species.
This kind of forest is a living Paleo-flora that represents a relic of sub-tropical humid vegetation which was found in the Tertiary period (late Miocene and early Pliocene) in large areas of South Europe and North Africa.
Madeira's Laurel Forest is located essentially in the Island north coast at an altitude among 300-1300m covering an area of roughly 15000 hectares.
The trade winds blowing from north-west determine a constant supply of humid air masses. When the masses climb up the slopes of Maderian mountains they tend to condense and therefore generating a dense fog that creates areas where the relative humidity is very high.
The humidity can go often above 85% which is one of the essential characteristics for the development of this unique kind of forest
The Laurel forest presents a great biodiversity and specificity of Flora and Fauna that display a wealth of ecological niches and play a predominant role in maintaining the hydrological balance equilibrium.
The diversity of fauna is very high with particular importance in invertebrates and birds. The highlight of avifauna is with no doubt the endemic Trocaz pigeon (Columba trocaz) and the Madeiran Firecrest (Regulus madeirensis). Other interesting endemics are the Slug (Phaenacolimax madeirovitrina ruivensis), the bat Madeira Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus maderensis) and what concern to butterflies, here is the chance to see the Madeira Brimstone (Gonepteryx madeirensis).
Despite the beautifull nature show of plants and flowers of Madeira, the highlight of this Island flora is unquestionably some of the Laurel Forest trees that date back several centuries.
These old trees are predominantly those belonging to Lauraceae family: Canary Laurel (Apollonias Barbujana ssp barbujana), Bay Laurel (Larus Novocanariensis), Fetid Laurel (Ocotea foetens), Mahogany (Persea indica) and the Lily of the Valley (Clethra arborea).
As for the bushes, Madeira Island stands out because of their evolutionary peculiarities such as the Pryde of Madeira (Echium candicans), Honey Spurge (Euphorbia mellifera), Madeiran Foxglove (Isoplexis sceptrum) and the (Musschia wollastonii).
In the herbaceous the Geranium (Geranium palmatum), Buttercup (Ranunculus cortusifolius) and the Madeira Orchid (Dactylorhiza foliosa).
This forest is the responsible for the most part of the water catchment and is known as "water producer". Great part of this water is collected in many inaccessible areas, conducted by the Levadas, which are open channels of water on the rock, that were built over five centuries to suppley villages, agricultural plantations and gardens located on Madeira’s slopes and valleys. Accompained by narrow paths and some of themes in tunnels cross the island, the levadas run for about 2150 kilometres over the island of Madeira.
Nº Identified Bird Species: 10
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Nº Identified Bird Species: 12
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