Year of compilation: 2002

Site description (baseline)
Extensive forest area that covers near 25% of Madeira island. Is mainly located in the northern half of the island. The majority vegetation is constituted by native forest (laurissilva) and associated species. Steep banks, deep valleys and abrupt slopes are all around the area, this and the dense vegetaton become inaccessible some places.

Key biodiversity
Columba trocaz is strongly associated to laurissilva, its main habitat. Here, we can find many other interesting species like Puffinus puffinus who breeds in some highly vegetated upstream banks, or Accipiter nisus grantii who hunts in forest's limit areas. Scolopax rusticola resides and breeds here, far away from its habitual reproduction area. Calonectris diomedea breeds sparsely in this area. Although its populations are not well known here, Bulweria bulwerii and Oceanodroma castro are frequently observed. At steepest areas several Apus unicolor colonies are found, and some Serinus canaria in openest zones. In addition to that, is important the presence of some endemic sub-species: Motacilla cinerea schmitzi, Fringilla coelebs maderiensis, Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis or Erithacus rubecula microrynchus.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Although to be classified as World Heritage Site since 1999, laurissilva is not exempt of conservation problems. Illegal hunt of columba trocaz or ousting of garbage and lands are some of them. The cattle, cows and sheeps, grazes freely in some areas, and constitutes a serious threat, although it is to be made an effort to restrict this and to recuperate the zone. The same inacessibility that confers laurissilva its importance, causes fiscalization problems, access difficulties to fires or imperfections of knowledge of some populations, namely seabirds. The agriculturists who exert its activity in the area of Madeira's Nature Park can benefit of prevention measures for columba's attacks to the cultures. Due to the great dimension of the area, and the percentage of the island that covers, laurissilva is threatened too by the construction of roads and other infrastructures that could fragmentate it and diminish its essential homogeneity.

Protected areas
National Nature Park of Madeira, Special Protection Area Laurissilva (PTMAD0001)International Special Protection Area Laurissilva, UNESCO World Heritage Site (site no934)

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Laurissilva. Downloaded from on 28/05/2023.