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So it looks like I’ll be going on holiday to a little place nestled in the laurisilva of Madeira this summer. Quite appropriate, seeing as though one of the courses on which I’m being examined this year is the flora and biogeography of the Macaronesian Islands.

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Further to my last post about the Watson/Black adventure in Madeira:

They made us ambassadors! Yes I realise that doesn’t sound quite right, but it’s right enough. For our (hopefully ongoing) contribution to Madeira Film Festival, which has a nature theme and promotes the conservation efforts of the native forests of Madeira, the Festival organisers made us ambassadors of this beautiful forest and the film festival. If you ever get the chance to visit Madeira and the forest, jump at it, and catch some insightful films and conversation at the MFF in April too.

This is a picture of the very beautiful and unique native forest in Madeira - the Laurissilva (lots of Laurel trees). It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site for good reason:

"Fossil evidence shows that laurisilva flora once covered much of southern Europe in the Tertiary era, 15-40 million years ago, and what is now seen in Madeira is the largest surviving relict of a virtually extinct flora of great interest. As climate change brought about its demise on continental Europe, the ocean-moderated climate of the island groups of the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands maintained relics of this previously widespread forest type.” (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/934)

Well I might be like a Princess And The Pea when it comes to apostrophes but the task at hand seems so much more important.

Laurissilva Forest

Madeira’s Laurissilva Forest was recognized, in 1999, as a World Natural Heritage by UNESCO. Laurissilva is a subtropical forest, that originaly appeared in the late Cretaceous, found in areas with high humidity and relatively stable and mild temperatures. Occupying more than 20% of Madeira, the Laurissilva Forest contains a unique variety of plants and animals, including many endemic species, and it is the largest surviving area of laurel forest.

Madeira has the most extensive and well conserved Laurel forest of the world, being included in the Madeira Natural Park as an Integral and Partial Nature Reserve.

A good way to enjoy the beautiful landscapes it offers is on horseback. Quinta do Riacho provides rides on horseback by Laurissilva Forest, accessible to all levels, from beginners to experienced riders.

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