Laurisilva of Madeira
The Laurisilva of Madeira is an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type. It is the largest surviving area of laurel forest and is believed to be 90% primary forest. It contains a unique suite of plants and animals, including many endemic species such as the Madeiran long-toed pigeon.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
An outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type
Rare and endemic plants
Rare and endemic vertebrates
Rare and endemic invertebrates
However, the site is currently facing a number of threats.
Laurisilva of Madeira is a very humid forest but the presence of invasive plants both at the lowest limit of this natural forest and already inside it in many reported cases allied with increasing temperatures, presents risk for the occurrence and increased area of forest fires, the uncertain behaviour of forest communities related to decrease water availability (increase human usage) should also be a strong concern in this regard. Recent fires (2010 to 2016) proved that local fire fighters are not prepared for competently fight against forest fires, in extreme situation special corps coming from the mainland proved to be fundamental for preventing further damage. The expansion of invasive alien species inside the property also threatens the indigenous vegetation, destroying natural habitats either directly by habit use or indirectly by changing forest fire behaviour.
The maintenance of certain exotic species constitutes an important threat to Laurissilva and limit the normal development and regeneration of the forest. Grazing both by cows and rabbits although in many cases restricted to border areas have recently expanded. Both the building of a dam (close to Rabaçal) and maintenance of water channels (levadas) and trails do not take into account native/endemic species and potential expansion of exotic species. The synergic effects of both fire, spread of invasive species, grazing proved to be a threat of unpredictable future effects. At same time, both traditional and new activities affect both forest succession (through wood cutting), and are causing erosion, affecting formerly well preserved habitats and contributing to invasive species spread (increase in extreme sport activities, such as trail-running, bike, crayoning.
This use results both in deposit of several kinds of garbage has well as human faeces along trails that cross the best preserved parts of the property. The effects of such overcrowding on bird populations has not been studied, several aspects should be analysed, including noise and feeding of endemic birds.
Seeds brought and left by tourists on the ground could facilitate invasion of new exotic species.
Tourism increase is also linked to increased water demand, road building, new tracks etc.
The uncontrolled opening of new bike tracks and the use of forest for downhill and free downhill is of high concern as well (https://youtu.be/pGELw4qEr9o; https://www.pinkbike.com/news/Madeira-The-undiscovered-MTB-paradise-Video-2014.html.
The displacement in altitude of mesic ecosystems will lead to the extinction of Mountain ecosystems and consequently also to the extinction of cacuminicolae endemic species (Figueired & Sequeira, 2012).
In 2003 an old dirt road that connects Ribeira da Janela to the plateau Paul da Serra was covered with asphalt. Besides this there is a proposal to cover with asphalt another road that connects São Vicente (Ginjas) to Estanquinhos, also in the plateau Paul da Serra (Personal communication, 2012).
The municipalities that comprise in the area have low population density and reveal an elder population. In these municipalities the agriculture (including cattle) and forestry activities still have some importance in the economic and social structure. There is a clear conflict of interests between local property and local (traditional) uses and tourism and tourism benefits. In fact more than 95% of income (hotels, restaurants, car rentals, nature guides, etc.) goes to Funchal (and close municipalities), leaving the resposability (and consequent use limitations) to the northern municipalities and the income for the southern ones.
The main difficulty with local population regarding site management was the problems with shepherds when the government authorities started to remove free grazing goats and with farmers who gets their crops damaged by Madeira Laurel Pigeon, which led to killing of some pigeons (Laurissilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009). The increase and movement pigeon populations to agricultural fields leads periodically to complaints on losses due to destruction (sometimes complete!) of cultures. An efficient system of compensation (economic) for agricultural losses needs to be urgently implemented therefore changing the view of stakeholders in what concerns pigeon population growth. Annually hundreds of pigeons are eliminated by local armed guard (Policia Florestal) which is clearly insufficient as a measure and politically complex and is not being monitoring. Recently there has been an attempt to reintroduce goats in the high mountains, unfortunately with some acceptance by local politicians.
It is a Nature 2000 Network Site, since it is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA) (adapted to national law ordinance nº829/2007 of 1st August) (SoOUV, 2011; Laurissilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009).
The Management Plan for the Laurisilva Forest was approved by the Regional Government in 2009. This document defines the strategies and objectives for the protection and enhancement of the Laurisilva of Madeira, drawing the main guidelines for its management, conservation and protection (SoOUV, 2010).
Before the approval of this management plan, several key stakeholders were invited to give inputs and improve strategic objectives.
There is a monitoring program that aims to ensure regular evaluation of the implementation of measures and actions proposed in the LM management plan, so it can be assessed the degree of achievement of the proposed objectives and performance (environmentally, social and economic) of all activities and operations developed (Laurisilva of Madeira Management Plan, 2009), however, there is no independent management effectiveness monitoring system in place (IUCN Consultation, 2014) and the evaluation of management system (and effectiveness) is undertaken by the same structures/authorities that are responsible for the management of the property.
The State Party also replied to questions regarding Laurisilva Pigeon culling (SOC report, 2010)
Nevertheless according to Laurissilva Madeira Management Plan (2009) there is a clear need for clarification of the limits of SAC Laurisilva Madeira and associated description so the management and protection of its natural values can be more effective.
The regional government will need to allocate new funds to promote the replacement of exotic vegetation in the transition zones of Laurissilva, as well as other activities, such as the removal of invasive species inside the property.
There are some possibilities to obtain additional funding such as European funds; revenue from merchandising; fundraising through thematic campaigns, via donations from visitors or sponsor by companies; payment of fees (Laurissilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009). However, the engagement of stakeholders involved in tourism activities in the financial sustainability of the IFCN is also needed. In fact although these stakeholders recognize the forest laurissilva as their main asset (http://estrategia.turismodeportugal.pt/sites/default/files/Doc_Estrategico_Turismo_RAM_0.pdf), their direct contributions to conservation projects have been absent . The increase in use and simultaneously the degradation of used infrastructure (such as trails) lead to the confusion between tourism infrastructure maintenance and nature conservation, in fact preserving and enhancing such infrastructure leads to
an increase in use.
Eradication of invasive species also requires additional measures, and thus additional resources.
Wardens from Madeira Natural Park and forestry police from forestry department have capability and adequate training to develop conservation with support from technical staff as well to ensure surveillance. But there is an urgent need to add new agents. Staff related to direct conservation actions, such as invasive species control, forest management (in border areas) fire prevention and forest fire fighting is reduced to a few men (mostly over 55 or 60 years old).
There is also promotion of the regulations about the adequate use of the site.
There is still a need to promote the site on internet with information in several languages (Laurisilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009).
However it’s necessary to develop a medium-term strategy for sustainable tourism. An action plan is required to achieve specific objectives such as monitoring of the impact of tourism on the fauna and flora, promotion of cultural and historic activities, control or reduction of activities that affect the quality of the landscape, water, soil, etc (Laurissilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009).
The recent increase in tourism visitation represents a management challenge and there is a need to ensure that tourism-related revenues also generate financial contributions to nature conservation projects.
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||Atlas of Breeding Birds in Madeira Archipelago||Identification of bird distribution and estimation species abundance in Madeira archipelago. This data will be a very useful instrument for nature conservation and in socio economic activities such as nature tourism|
|2||BIOCLIMAC||Evaluation of the effects of climate changes on vegetal diversity of Macaronesian archipelagos (Canaries, Madeira and Azores). Development of an adequate sample model for seed collection aiming at the creation of a seeds bank that guarantees the genetic diversity. Increase of public attention for the need to conserve natural resources and effects of climate changes on them|
|3||PNM||Monitoring of population trend and implementation of measures that allows the equilibrium between Madeira Laurel Pigeon presence at Laurisilva boundaries and agricultural practice trying to minimize damages made on the crops|
|4||SPNM||Control and eradication of invasive alien plants aiming at recovery of natural ecosystems. This project also aims to raise awareness of managers, nature areas visitors and others stakeholders such as plant producers and sellers of the importance of invasive alien species control.|
|5||IFCN||Eradication of invasive species in boundary areas (Ulex and Cytisus)|
|6||IFCN||"Conservation of Macaronesian Sparrowhawk and Laurissilva habitat in Madeira Island"|
|7||IFCN||Life Maciço Montanhoso|
|8||DRFCN||PROF-RAM (Plano Regional de Ordenamento Florestal da Região Autónoma da Madeira)|
|9||DRFCN||IFRAM 2 (Inventário Florestal da Região Autónoma da Madeira)|
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||Monitoring of ecosystem trends and changes||Gather information on ecosystem trends and changes, based on the installation of permanent plots on several distinct ecosystems included on the property.|
|2||Monitoring of key species , including dominant trees and other important plants such as endangered species (Native and native/endemics)||Key dominant species of the property include lauraceae (and also Clethraceae). Their growths, health, recovery among other factors are largely unknown. Many native and native endemic species need be monitored in order to obtain more and better data for future management actions.|
|3||Monitoring of bat populations||Madeiran bats need to be urgently studied and monitored, as they correspond to a largely unknown group of specie [(Plecotus austriacus (Fischer, 1829), Hypsugo savii (Bonaparte, 1837), Pipistrellus maderensis (Dobson, 1878), Nyctalus leisleri (Kuhl, 1817), and (Tadarida teniotis (Rafinesque, 1814)], some of them dependent on forest ecosystems, their population trends need to be accurately assessed in order to implement efficient management actions|
|4||Evaluation of fire risk and fire risk changes due to the spread of invasive species||Management of risk situations, namely fire, are of paramount importance, in fact fire has not only recently affected several areas of laurissilva but in several occasions was close to affect dramatically core areas of the property (in 2016 for 3 days it was close to affect the Rabaçal area). Behaviour of the forest depends on composition, structure, humidity, wind etc. but also on the presence of exotic species such as Acacia, Cytisus and Ulex. Therefore analysing information on forest type, invaded areas, closeness of invaded areas etc., will result on a fundamental management asset, both for defining priority areas (for removal of invasive species) but also risk priority where surveillance and allocation of firefighting structures/means is most needed.|
|5||on forest type, invaded areas, closeness of invaded areas etc., will result on a fundamental management asset, both for defining priority areas (for removal of invasive species) but also risk priority where surveillance and allocation of firefighting structures/means is most needed.||Although there are several maps of Madeiran forests, there is no map of vegetation. A vegetation model is available and it is straightforward to make the correspondence to the habitats described and listed in Habitats Directive, therefore obtaining a Vegetation Map/habitat cartography does not depend on the description of the vegetation (see Capelo et al. 2004) and could be compared with Natural Potential Vegetation Maps (already alvailable, see Mesquita et al., 2007).|
|6||Invasive flora control||This is possibly the most important project, and also where most financial means should be applied, invasive flora represents the worst biological risk to the property. However, part of the project should be designed to prevent further invasions and it should therefore pinpoint the sensible frontiers (harbours, airport) and design more effective tools to control the entry of new species.|
|7||Compensation for damage caused by Pigeon||This is a crucial project in order to turn local people toward conservation; damage on agriculture fields has been extensive in the last years, and illegal killing of pigeon was detected on many occasions. The use of forestry guards to preform control actions is not only complex (politically) but also costly and not effective.|
|1||Abreu, P. (2015) Estudo da distribuição das espécies invasoras Hydrangea macrophylla e Agapanthus praecox nas estradas, levadas e veredas no Parque Natural da Madeira, com vista ao seu control (https://run.unl.pt/bitstream/10362/16362/1/Abreu_2015.pdf)|
|2||Capelo, J., M. Menezes de Sequeira, R., Jardim, S. Mesquita & J. C. Costa. 2005. The vegetation of Madeira Island (Portugal). A brief overview and excursion guide. Quercetea 7: 105 -122.|
|3||Collin, Gérard (2010). Technical Advisory Mission to the Laurissilva World Heritage Site Madeira, Portugal. Unesco World Heritage Centre|
|4||ETC/NB (2010). Terrestrial Macaronesian Region. Reference List at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/sites_hab…. Assessed 26 April 2013|
|5||ETC/NB (2010). Terrestrial Macaronesian Region. Reference List at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/sites_hab…. Assessed 26 April 2013|
|6||EcoMind (2010). Rabaçal Cable Car – Analysis of the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Laurisilva Forest of Madeira.|
|7||FIGUEIREDO, A., MENEZES DE SEQUEIRA, M. & ALMEIDA, A. C. 2009. Impactes das mudanças climáticas na distribuição de espécies endémicas em pequenas ilhas: o caso da Ilha da Madeira. VII Congresso da Geografia Portuguesa, co-organized by Associação Portuguesa de Geógrafos and the Department of Geography of Coimbra University, Coimbra, 26th to 28th November.|
|8||Figueiredo A & Menezes de Sequeira M. 2010. Assessing different sources of threat to endemic species at Madeira Island. FloraMac 2010, Ponta Delgada (Açores, Portugal), 23 a 25 de Setembro|
|9||Figueiredo A, Pupo-Correia A & Menezes de Sequeira M. 2010. Current and potential distribution for Acacia Mill species at Madeira Island and implications to biodiversity. FloraMac 2010, Ponta Delgada (Açores, Portugal), 23 a 25 de Setembro.|
|10||Figueiredo A. & Sequeira, M. 2016a. Susceptibility to climate change by the laurel forests of Madeira Island: How changes on suitable area might promote floristic adjustments. Pp. 50 in: R. Gabriel, R.B. Elias, I.R. Amorim & P.A.V. Borges (Eds). Conference program and abstracts of the 2nd International Conference on Island Evolution, Ecology and Conservation: Island Biology 2016, 18-22 July 2016, Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal. Arquipelago. Life and Marine Sciences. Supplement 9.]|
|11||Figueiredo, A. & Sequeira, M. 2016b. Alterações climáticas. In “Aprender Madeira” – Dicionário Enciclopédico da Madeira, disponível em: http://aprenderamadeira.net/alteracoes-climaticas/|
|12||Figueiredo, A., Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2015. THE TOP IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST POSITION: THE CASE OF EXCLUSIVE ENDEMICS AT MADEIRA ISLAND. FloraMac 2015, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 23‐27 de marzo de 2015.|
|13||Figueiredo, A., Pupo-Correia, A. & Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2013. Susceptibilidade à ocorrência de deslizamentos em diferentes tipos de vegetação na ilha da Madeira. VI CONGRESSO NACIONAL DE GEOMORFOLOGIA – Coimbra, 2013. Atas/Proceedings, Pp. 115-118. – ISBN 978-989-96462-4-7|
|14||Figueiredo, A., Pupo-Correia, A., Almeida, A. & Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2011. Modelos preditivos para a avaliação da expansão de espécies invasoras e extinção de endemismos. V Jornadas Florestais da Macaronésia, 8 a 11 de Fevereiro de 2011. Funchal.|
|15||Figueiredo, A., Vicente, J. & Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2013. Territórios potenciais das florestas de laurissilva na Ilha da Madeira: resultados com base em modelos de distribuição de espécies. IX Encontro Internacional de Fitossociologia ALFA: Vegetação e Paisagem - Uma Perspectiva Sócio-Ecológica | Vila Nova de Gaia, 9 a 12 de maio de 2013|
|16||Figueiredo, A., Vicente, J., Pupo-Correia, A., Campar de Almeida, A. & Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2012. Areas of potential conflict between the laurel forests and invasion by exotic trees. FloraMac 2012. 5-8 September, Funchal, Portugal.|
|17||Figueiredo, A.; Pupo-Correia, A.; Sequeira, M. M. (2016). O tipo de vegetação como fator diferenciador na suscetibilidade à ocorrência de deslizamentos na Ilha da Madeira: o caso da Ribeira da Tabua. In Lourenço, Luciano (Coord.), Geografia, cultura e riscos. Livro de Homenagem ao Prof. Doutor António Pedrosa, Vol. II, Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, págs.: 219 - 244.|
|18||Figueiredo, A.; Pupo-Correia, Aida, Almeida, António Campar; Sequeira, Miguel Menezes de (2016). Distribuição atual e potencial de espécies do género Acacia Mill. (Fabaceae) na Ilha da Madeira e implicações para a diversidade florística em contexto de invasão. Cadernos de Geografia, 34:67-80.|
|19||JANSSEN et al. (2016) European Red List of Habitats. EC. Environment. 44pp. Also, for factsheets: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/knowledge/redlist_en…|
|20||Jardim, R., Capelo, J. & Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2012. Vascular Flora of Madeira: diversity, endemism and conservation. FloraMac 2012. 5-8 September, Funchal, Portugal.|
|21||Jardim, R., Menezes de Sequeira, M. & Capelo, J. 2007. Espécies florestais das ilhas - Madeira. In: Silva, J. ed. “Árvores e Florestas de Portugal”. Volume 6, Açores e Madeira - A Floresta das Ilhas. Público, Comunicação Social SA, Fundação Luso Americana para o Desenvolvimento e Liga para a Protecção da Natureza: Pp. 255-296.|
|22||Laurissilva of Madeira Management Plan (2009). Regional Forestry Department. Funchal, Madeira Island|
|23||Menezes de Sequeira, M. & Hobohm, C. 2014. Madeira Islands. in Carsten Hobohm (ed.) Endemism in Vascular Plants. Series: Plant and Vegetation, Vol. 9. Springer-Verlag. ISBN: 978-94-007-6912-0 (Print) 978-94-007-6913-7 (Online).|
|24||Menezes de Sequeira, M., Mesquita, S. & Pupo, A. 2011. Bringing together vegetation science, eco-tourism and conservation towards sustainability in the laurisilva of Madeira. First International Simposium of the FIP - Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Sep 13, 2011 - Sep 17, 2011 • Valencia, Spain.|
|25||Prada, S. & Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2007. Importância das Florestas da Madeira na Captação da Água dos Nevoeiros. In: Silva, J. ed. “Árvores e Florestas de Portugal”. Volume 6, Açores e Madeira - A Floresta das Ilhas. Público, Comunicação Social SA, Fundação Luso Americana para o Desenvolvimento e Liga para a Protecção da Natureza: 111-118.|
|26||Pupo-Correia A, Aranha JT & Menezes de Sequeira M. 2010. Madeiran landscape: one hundred years of change assessed by RLPT (Repeat Landscape Photography Technique). FloraMac 2010, Ponta Delgada (Açores, Portugal), 23 a 25 de Setembro|
|27||Pupo-Correia A, Figueiredo A, Aranha JT & Menezes de Sequeira M. 2010. Arundo donax L (Poaceae) in Madeira Island: invasiveness and impact on biodiversity. FloraMac 2010, Ponta Delgada (Açores, Portugal), 23 a 25 de Setembro.|
|28||Pupo-Correia, A., Figueiredo, A., Aranha, J. Menezes de Sequeira, M. 2010. Evolução da invasão por Arundo donax L. (Poaceae) na Ilha da Madeira e os seus efeitos sobre a biodiversidade vegetal. VIII Encontros Internacionais de Fitossociologia – ALFA “Novas perspectivas da Fitossociologia”, Lisboa, Fundação Gulbenkian, 13 a 16 de Setembro.|
|29||SOC Report (2010). 33COM. Laurissilva of Madeira (Portugal) (N 934).|
|30||SPNM (2004). The Laurissilva of Madeira World Heritage. Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e Recursos Naturais, Madeira.|
|31||Santos, Duarte & Aguiar, Ricardo (2006). Impacts and Adaptation Measures to Climate Change in the Madeira Archipelago. Project CLIMAAT II. Funchal, Madeira.|
|32||SoOUV - Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (2011).|