Enchanting Photos of Madeira’s Ancient Fanal Forest Filled With 500-Year-Old Trees

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There are lots of places in our world that need to be protected by law from being destroyed. That’s the reason why we have World Heritage Sites. World Heritage Sites are landmarks or paces which have been selected by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) for their historicalcultural, scientific, or other kinds of importance.

 

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These places are protected legally by international treaties. UNESCO visits these sites and determines if they are important for the collective and preservative interests for humanity before adding them as part of the World Heritage Sites and its protection.

 

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Back in July 2019, UNESCO recorded 1,121 World Heritage Sites in a total of 167 States Parties or countries that have kept to the World Heritage Convention. Apart from these state parties is also the non-member state of the Holy See. Out of all 1,121 sites, 213 are natural, 869 are cultural, and 39 are mixed.

 

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Laurisilva of Madeira

Madeira Island, or Madeira, is an autonomous region of Portugal. This island is one of Europe’s most beautiful locations for traveling. Thousands of tourists are visiting the island for its amazing weather as well as the unique flora and fauna. The island is also known for a crime-free place which makes it a very safe holiday destination. Its dramatic landscape consists of mountains, volcanoes, rocky beaches, and breathtaking ancient forests.

 

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When explorers first saw Madeira, the entire island was covered by the Laurisilva Forest. At the moment, 16% of the forest is left on the island.

Laurisilva forest is a type of native forest that once covered large parts of Southern Europe about 15-40 million years ago. It’s situated in the Parque Natural da Madeira or the Madeira Natural Park and it’s the largest surviving area of primarily laurel forest (laurisilva). This vegetation is confined only in the regions of the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Island. Aside from the ecological niches and intact ecosystem processes, these forests play a major role in preserving the hydrological balance in Madeira Island.

 

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There’s large biodiversity in the forest with at least 76 vascular plant species native to the island. Additionally, the island has a large number of native invertebrates and two native bird species such as the Madeiran Laurel Pigeon.

Most of the tree species come from the Lauraceae family. The property is untouched, especially the trees since some of them are possibly more than 800 years old. These trees have been growing even before the island was settled. In the past, there have been instances where sheep and goats have done damage, however, these animals have been removed from the area.

 

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Aside from the sheep and goats, there has been minimal human activity with the construction of water canals known as levadas. These levadas run through the forest and are typically 80-150 cm wide. Levadas on the island are constructed from stone and most recently from concrete and their main purpose is to bring water from the forest to hydropower stations in the southern towns. Additionally, they provide drinking water and irrigation supplies. Along with some of these levadas, there are hiking trails which allow tourists to explore the forest. For over 70 years, there hasn’t been any additional path built in this region, however, the old ones are maintained with care.

 

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As part of the Madeira Natural Park which is 27,000 hectares, the forest covers about 15,000 hectares. The entire park is under legal protection from the regional, natural, and European law because it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fanal Forest

The Fanal forest is part of the Laurisilva forest located in its middle. It’s situated north-west of the island in the Paul da Serra plateau. From the town Riberia Da Janela, the Fanal forest is about 10km to the east.

 

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As part of the ancient laurel forest, the Fanal is very famous for its morning fog as well as its crooked and wind-blown trees. As mentioned, the fog appears throughout the forest in the morning and covers the trees and landscape in mist. There are many hiking trails by which travelers can relax and enjoy the nature. Throughout these hikes, travelers can see incredible species of forest such as Laurisilva as Tis, Folhados, Laurel, Vinháticos, and many more. These trees can be 500-800 years old.

One photographer named Albert Dros was able to capture the beauty of the trees with the mist creating a very dreamlike landscape. He was able to capture every aspect of the fairytale forest starting from dusk to dawn. Some of the pictures show the trunks of the ancient trees covered in moss. Dros claims that once you are at this scenery, it feels like you’re in a dream. The feeling is unbelievable and he encourages everyone to visit this natural beauty.

Because of the protection from UNESCO and other laws, we can be sure that the Fanal forest will remain in perfect condition for many years.

Sources:

www.instagram.com – Albert Dros Photography

www.facebook.com – Albert Dros Photography

www.madeira-web.com

whc.unesco.org

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