The classification of the Laurissilva forest as a natural world heritage site in 1999, rewards one of the greatest treasures of the Autonomous Region of Madeira.
Occupying a total area of almost 15 000 hectares, the biggest patch of Laurissilva exists in the Municipality of Porto Moniz, representing about 67% of its total.
Today, the Laurissilva forest occupies about 22% of the Island and can be found mainly on the north-facing slopes, where the altitude, orographic characteristics, lower temperatures and higher humidity levels are favourable to its development.
In addition to it rareness, the importance of this forest is related to its strong link with the water resources of the Island. Permitting the capture and infiltration of water makes it an important resource for the endemic fauna and flora that flourish there.
It is easy to see the value of the Laurissilva forest which has been classified as:
- Biogenetic Reserve of the Council of Europe in 1992;
- Priority Habitat under the Habitats Directive;
- Natura 2000 network site;
- Special Protection Area under the Wild Birds Directive;
- Included on the UNESCO list for the World Natural Heritage Site.