"Madeira Island - Sculpted by Gods" Top 5 Page for this destination Madeira Island by salinhopt
Madeira Island Travel Guide: 815 reviews and 2,029 photos
One of the greatest tourist attractions of the Island of Madeira lies in its spectacular landscape. Its luxurious vegetation continues to fascinate all those closely drawn to nature.
This archipelago, included in the bio-geographic region of Macaronesia, retains a natural heritage of great scientific value, distinguished by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage.
Madeira's indigenous Laurissilva forest, occupying an area of 15 thousand hectares, forms part of this vast layer of vegetation that covers the island. This ancient forest dates back to the Tertiary Era and includes very large trees amongst which is the Til, (Ocotea foetens), the Laurel-Tree, (Laurus azorica) and the Brazilian Mahogany, (Persea indica). Surrounding the trees are mosses and many other bushes, including heather and ferns.
Amongst the bird life there are rare species such as the Long-toed pigeon, (Columba trocaz) and Zino's petrel or the Madeira Freira petrel, (Pterodroma madeira).
In a continuous effort to preserve nature in its primitive form, five different areas of the Region were declared Nature Reserves. These are the Reserves of the Desertas and Selvagens Islands, the Nature Reserve of Rocha do Navio and the Garajau and Ponta de São Lourenço Reserves. Through them, the various endemic forms of flora and fauna are identified.
But beyond this invaluable heritage, the island of Madeira also contains a vast array of exotic plants of every form and colour, the majority of which originate from various other parts of the world and have adapted here as well as they do in their native environment.
Ever since the XVIIth century there have been plans to create a Botanical Garden in Madeira. And in 1960 this dream finally came true. The Quinta do Bom Sucesso, a propriety belonging to the Reid family, was purchased for this purpose. The Madeira Botanical Garden has a privileged location on the south side of a valley at an altitude of between 200 and 350 metres so conditions are ideal to support its exuberant vegetation.
The garden reveals to the visitor a combination of harmonious shapes and contrasting colours backed by views over the beautiful landscape of Funchal Bay and the surrounding mountains. In this garden are than 2,000 exotic plants from all continents; notable are the orchids, arum lilies, the bird of paradise flower (strelitzia sp) magnolias, azaleas, bromeliads, cactus, palm trees, ferns and many others. They are so well adapted they might be growing in their original habitat. The gardens are not simply a beautiful leisure space. They also form part of a government institution that is dedicated to science and agriculture.
The growing loss in biodiversity and habitats at global level was the stimulus for the Madeira Botanical Gardens to become a Conservation Centre. Many plants suffering the risk of extinction are being studied here. In these gardens one see plants growing that are considered virtually extinct or at risk of extinction.
This is an institution performing vital roles for the knowledge and conservation of Madeira’s flora. There are living collections used for scientific research, conservation and ecological education.
The Autonomous Region of Madeira (Portugal) have been voted European Region of the Year 2004, by an International Jury. This was announced by Xavier Tudela, President of the European Region of the Year Organisation, at a press conference on Tuesday, 18 March at the International Press Centre in Barcelona. Eight regions were short-listed for this nomination.
The European Region of the Year is an initiative which aims to increase kowledge and recognition of European regional affairs, to make new contributions to regional construction and European integration and, finally, to project the regions designated as European Region of the Year onto the European and international scene, in all their aspects, such as the social, cultural, economic and tourism aspects. The initiative has certain similarities to the European Capitals of Culture, but at regional level.
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