Madeira Island Laurel Forest

Madeira Island Laurel Forest

Madeira Island Laurel Forest

Madeira Island Laurel Forest

Developing between 300 and 1300 m of altitude, the Madeira Island Laurel Forest “Laurissilva” is a replica of the forests that covered much of Europe until the last glaciation. Classified by UNESCO as a Natural Heritage, it is the largest bay forest in the world. True enchanted forest and full of secrets, has enormous biological diversity. Almost all the plants and animals that live here are exclusive from the laurel forest, the case of flagship laurissilva bird, the wood pigeon. This tree evergreen leaves came to cover 60% of the island. With the fires, agriculture and human settlement, the area was reduced to 20%, which nevertheless corresponds to 15,000 hectares, most of which on the north coast.
 

The temperature is a crucial factor for the development of these forests. They grow best in deep, moist ravines, as Ribeiro Frio and Ribeira da Janela. Here the coastal fogs are frequent and humidity levels exceed 80%. The forest is named after the predominant species, bay leaf, but there are also the tilde, the Barbusano, the mahogany or beech. Small trees and shrubs complete the picture, the Case of Rolling, the Madeiran Cheesewood, White Stick and Elderberry Madeira.
 

The floor is covered in green and red tones from the ferns, lichens and mosses. These forests are vital to the nature and island economy. They help to conserve water not only rain and fog, as descending from the highlands. Without them, the Levadas would not ensure the irrigation of crops. Above 1300 m, where the laurel is no longer suited grows a completely different vegetation, consisting of small and heather shrubs, very resistant to cold and precipitation.

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