Laurisilva of Madeira
on the Portuguese island of Madeira (off the African coast) has been placed on the list mainly because of its biological diversity. Also it is considered an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type.
The forest lies between 300 and 1300 m. altitude, and extends across 22.100 hectares of land. Remarkable are its high quality hard wood trees.
Visit December 2002
To see the Laurissilva I took a bus from Madeira's capital Funchal to Ribeiro Frio. This 45-minute ride in the mountains brings you to a part of Madeira where the Laurissilva forest still exists.
Due to bad weather (rain, mist) I only did a short walk to Balcoes, and then took the bus back. I'm not much of a tree-specialist, so I publicize here some of my pictures of the forest, hoping there's one of the Laurissilva among them.
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
Madeira is a beautiful island and very popular holiday destination. Though it doesn't offer a whole lot of historic sights, it features a wide range of diverse landscapes and habitats, the most unique of which is the laurel forest. This type of forest disappeared on the European continent during the last Ice Age, but survived on some Atlantic islands such as the Canaries and Madeira. To tick it off, I took a local bus from Funchal to the trout hatchery at Ribeiro Frio, which seems to be crowded with tourists at all times. From there I took the pleasant trail (about 1.5 km one way) through an impressively dense forest to the beautiful Balcoes viewpoint. I also started on the longer trail to Portela, but turned back after a while when it started to rain. Ribeiro Frio is certainly the easiest way to visit this WHS, but for more serious (and fit) hikers than I am, Rabacal and the trail to the 25 Fontes seems to be the best way to experience the laurel forest. It should be noted that although the Madeira Nature Reserve easily covers three quarters of the island, this is not the same as the World Heritage Site, which only covers the remaining pockets of laurisilva, most of which are in the northern part of the island. I found it rather difficult to find a map showing the exact extent of the WHS (even though there is an endless variety of hiking maps available), but the small one I could eventually find definitely included both Ribeiro Frio and Rabacal. On one of my bus trips across the island, I also crossed the forest reserve of Chao dos Louros, also within the WHS, but I couldn't get off there.
| Date posted: May 2012|
|Adrian Lakomy (Slovakia; currently Czech republic):|
Madeira is definitely a great island, you can find there plenty of points for leasure, great food and madeira wine. And as well nature.
The best how to see the Site is to rent a car (3 days are enough to see the whole island in detail) and drive to Rabacal or Ribeira Frio.
In both locations are very nice Levada tours - which are not difficult for walk and are going through the forests.
Highly recommended island for holiday with a WHS as a bonus ;)
Pic: forest in fog :)
| Date posted: October 2009|
I have visitd these forests many times. As a young Funchalense, my parents would take me on picnics to Santo da Serra, Poiso, and Ribeiro Frio (very impressive trout hatchery located there), where we would enjoy hiking through these woodlands. These forests are breathtakingly gorgeous. You truly feel like you are in a scene from "Lord of the Rings". The trees are so gnarled and thick, and the air is so fresh and cool. The Madeiran government has done a superlative job preserving these forests and I hope they remain protected for posterity. My only fear is that the extensive and invasive forests of Maritime Pine, Douglas Fir, Chestnut and Eucalyptus found throughout the island don't encroach too closely and compromise these primordial Laurisilva forests.
|Paulo Daniel - www.infonature.org (European Union - Portugal):|
MADEIRA ISLANDS - PORTUGAL
I have been in that area of the Laurisilva Forest and as well all over the island, and very basicaly i can say that it is very beautiful forest, really amazing nature (as well all the island), and should always be preserved.
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