Miles of dense lush forest that remind us of our insignificance and how nature can be overwhelming *
The laurissilva forest of Madeira is reminiscent of an era when dinosaurs were no longer the masters of the planet. Sorry, no T-Rex in this story. Returning to its origins in the Tertiary age, this was a subtropical rainforest that covered large areas of southern Europe and Northern Africa some 20 million years ago, due to the emergence of the Mediterranean Sea, significant weather changes, (ring a bell?), and also to the beginning of glaciation. Environment factors that led to the decline and near extinction of laurel in all regions located further west of continental Europe.
The last refuge of this type of forest is located in island less permeable to climatic changes, due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Currently the islands where you can still find this type of vegetation , area part of the Macaronesia: Madeira, the Azores, the Canaries, Cabo Verde and Mauritania.
After this brief summary, let me get to the point. The core of the Laurel in Madeira, currently covers 20% of its territory occupies an area of about 15,000 hectares more to the north of the island and can only be seen between 300 and 1300 meters of altitude. This forest is the natural heritage of UNESCO since 1999. And from this complex and fragile ecosystem also depend the underground aquifers of the island, as the water of the mist is abstracted to the soils through the dense forest in a very effective way.
Now, I could continue to charge you with more info, but I think this is not the most important. What is fabulous when you penetrate into this green world, is the feeling of being in a sort of enchanted forest. With trees of odd shapes, wired lichens that cover them, small colorful plants that emerge in the most unusual places and gray boulders covered with moss, it's almost like an umbrella forest, it is possible to glimpse the light broken by the branches and in the end we are surprised with amazing waterfalls. I advise anyone that to see the island at it's best to do the Levadas. Scroll down the laurel walk and i leave you with a suggestion, the footpath of Lagoa do Vento. Good walk!
* Scientific data were taken from the site www.madeiranature.com