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Nature and the Flora and Fauna on Madeira

There is no doubt that the flora and fauna of Madeira is rich and diverse. Merely gazing around the area will already allow one’s eyes to feast on lush greens, towering trees and exotic plants. The richness of the environment in Madeira is the main reason why numerous species, even the endangered ones, find a conducive habitat in this archipelago. Approximately two thirds of Madeira consists of protected nature and that says a lot. Madeira has an  unique and diverse flora and fauna thanks to its mild climate. The laurel (laura silva), which once covered almost the entire island and gave Madeira (meaning wood)her name, is now on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Early Madeira

Up until 1419, the entirety of Madeira is covered by thick forest. There was barely an area which remained plain and barren. Because of this, thousands of diverse flora and fauna are found in this archipelago. This was before early settlers developed certain areas so they could use it as a place of residence.

When early settlers came to Madeira and started to set-up their homes, they burned some trees and flattened other areas. Interestingly, since the southern part has friendlier climate, the northern part of the archipelago remained untouched.

Nature Protection

It was in 1999 when UNESCO recognized Madeira as a World Nature Heritage Site. Because of this, the government exerts all efforts in order to preserve the ecological state of the archipelago. Some areas have been restricted so that the species may continue to reproduce and live undisturbed. The parks and forests have been safeguarded too so these would be conserved.  

Madeira Flora

There are a lot of different plants and flowers that are found within Madeira. The peaks in this archipelago are usually where the different types of flowers and plants are able to flourish even more. Among the more common ones include Rosetas, Mandon’s Chrysanthemums, Piorno Flowers and lots of moss and ferns. These are seen in peaks such as the Pico Ruivo and Pico do Areeiro.    

For people who would like to explore the rich flora of Madeira even more there are two places which will enable them to enjoy endemic species of plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and a whole lot more. These places are the Laurisilva forest and the Flora da Ilha da Madeira. Here are some of the species that are seen within Madeira:

  • Ocotea foetens
  • Clethra arborea Aiton
  • Dactylorhiza foliosa
  • Lauruz azorica
  • Persea indica
  • Dracaena draco
  • Echium candicans

In Funchal you will find the beautiful Pregetters Orchid Garden which is open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m., including holidays (except 25th December). You will find here lots of orchids and other tropical plants.

Madeira Fauna

Nature protection within Madeira is not limited to just the plants and forests. Even the land and water animals are closely guarded because some are already endangered and could become extinct if not conserved. The fauna of Madeira is particularly interesting underwater and in the air ... Furthermore you find on Madeira feral goats, rabbits, reptiles and insects. The waters around Madeira have a large biodiversity. Several dolphins and whales swimming around the coast and there are plenty of fish swimming in the clear waters such as the black scabbard, cod, sardines, sharks, marlin, mackerel etc..

Here are some of the species which are being protected within the waters of Madeira:

  • Red Hogfish (Pseudolepidaplois scrofa)
  • Scabbard fish (Aphanopus carbo)
  • Manta ray (Manta birostris)
  • Parrot fish (Sparisoma cretense)

Aside from the species that are not found elsewhere, Madeira is also frequented by migratory animals because of the pleasant water temperature. On certain months of the year, there are a lot of sardines, swordfish, tuna fish, sea lions, whales and dolphins.

There are many birds that breed in Madeira island. There are three native species: Madeira Firecrest, Zino's Petrel and the Trocaz Pigeon. Among the different types of birds which are found within Madeira forests, particularly the Laurisilva Forest, are the following:

  • Madeira Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus)
  • Canary (Serinus canaria)
  • White-faced storm petrel (Pelagodroma marina)
  • Leach’s Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)
  • Wilson’s storm petrel (Oceanites oceanicus)

Aside from this rare species, the forests of Madeira is also home for more common birds like seagulls, heron and other smaller types of birds.

Interestingly, even if this archipelago has lush forests, there are no dangerous snakes to worry about.

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Below is a list of parks and nature reserves in Madeira where you can hike and enjoy the beautiful nature of Madeira:

Ecological Park "Parque Ecologica"
"Ribeiro Frio Parque"
"Parque das Queimadas"
"Garajau's Nature Reserve"
"Ponta de São Laurenço"

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