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The North Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira, the Azores, the Canary Islands and Cabo Verde form the Palaearctic sub-region of Macaronesia. This name was first used by the English botanist Philip Webb which means the “happy” or “fortunate” islands (from the Greek).

The islands are volcanic in origin, formed over successive phases of volcanic activity and interceding periods of erosion, resulting in spectacular and rugged scenery and unique ecosystems, characterised by high levels of endemism.

The Archipelago of Madeira is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 500 km west of the North West African coast, 660km NNW of the Canary Islands and 1000 km south west of the Iberian Peninsula.

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Madeira is renowned for its lush vegetation, spectacular scenery and endemic flora and fauna. The largest remaining area of laurel forest or “Laurisilva” worldwide (estimated at 15,9454 hectares or 20% of the island’s area) is found on Madeira. It is fully protected by the Natural Park of Madeira and has had UNESCO world heritage status since 1999. It is also a biogenetic reserve. [more...]

Over two thirds of the island is protected. If you intend to collect biological material during your stay on Madeira you must write to the Director of the Natural Park of Madeira [pnm@gov-madeira.pt] before your visit, formally requesting permission to collect.