Laurisilva of Madeira

Country
Portugal
Inscribed in
1999
Criteria
(ix)
(x)
The conservation outlook for this site has been assessed as "good with some concerns" in the latest assessment cycle. Explore the Conservation Outlook Assessment for the site below. You have the option to access the summary, or the detailed assessment.
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. © UNESCO
© IUCN/Elena Osipova

Summary

2020 Conservation Outlook

Finalised on
02 Dec 2020
Good with some concerns
The site’s World Heritage values have so far been mostly preserved and remain stable and a number of recent studies show continued presence and stable trends in many endemic and rare species preserved thanks to the remaining good condition of some of the habitats within the site. However, the site is facing a number of threats with invasive species and forest fires being the most serious ones and the synergetic effects of fire and spread of invasive species is also of concern. A number of projects have been initiated recently to control invasive species and the capacity to respond to forest fires has been significantly increased recently through the introduction of a Plan for the prevention of and watch for forest fires and the reinforcement of human resources and capacities. These increased management responses to the key threats represent a positive step, however, they will need be sustained in the longer-term, as threats to the site are predicted to increase in the future, facilitated by climate change.
 

Current state and trend of VALUES

Low Concern
Trend
Stable
Although Laurisilva of Madeira has largely maintained its natural ecological and biological processes, it is under pressure from several threats, including the increase in fire risk, the expansion of invasive species. Recent increase in management responses to address these two threats represents a positive step; however measures to address monitoring and control of invasive species could be further strengthened. Potential increase in water demand resulting with more water being drained from the site has also been of concern and if combined with reducing rainfall and increasing temperatures, as well as with the expansion of invasive species can result in the risk of forest regression becoming a serious issue. At present, several plant and vertebrate species seem to present stable population trends, but for most species there are no consistent data specifically for the World Heritage site, even though monitoring is undertaken for the Natura 2000 site, overlapping with the World Heritage site, in the framework of the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. A number of recent monitoring and research projects assessed trends in some invertebrate species, concluding that while overall, many remain well preserved in the Laurisilva forest, some species will require additional conservation measures.

Overall THREATS

High Threat
The difficult access to the core areas of Laurisilva of Madeira and long history of protection have until recently resulted in generally low levels of impact in these core areas. However, some threats exist, with invasive species and risks of forest fires being the most serious ones. The synergetic effects of fire and spread of invasive species is also of concern and introduction of new invasive species and/or pathogens is also considered the most serious potential threat. Other threats remain at low level or very localized. Concerns have previously been expressed regarding impacts of tourism due to growing demand, however, the impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on visitation will now need to be assessed. However, further expansion of tourism or sport activities in the future would be of concern, if left uncontrolled.

Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT

Some Concern
There are a number of management tools and the site has a good management plan approved by the Regional Government in 2009, but its full implementation is somewhat hindered by budget constraints. A new structure - IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza) has recently been created, therefore concentrating management responsibilities in one sole public institute, leading consequently to gains in capacity. Recently, measures have also been undertaken to reinforce the permanent staff of the management body (IFCN) and to hire additional forestry police agents. A number of threats, particularly forest fires and invasive species, exist and will require further attention; however, recent increase in management responses, including increase in fire response capacity, is encouraging. Nonetheless, several constrains remain, including lack of financial resources.

Full assessment

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Finalised on
02 Dec 2020

Description of values

An outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type

Criterion
(ix)
The Laurisilva of Madeira is an outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type, which covered much of Southern Europe 15-40 million years ago. The forest of the property completely covers a series of very steep, V-shaped valleys leading from the plateau and east-west ridge in the centre of the island to the north coast. The forests of the property and their associated biological and ecological process are largely undisturbed, and play a predominant role in the island´s hydrological balance. The forest is mainly comprised of evergreen trees and shrubs, with flat, dark green shiny leaves. The property provides a wealth of ecological niches, complex food webs and examples of co-evolution of species. A range of climax vegetation communities such as the "Til Laurisilva", the "Barbusano Laurisilva" and the "Vinhático Laurisilva", have been identified within the property. Ancient trees in the valley bottoms, waterfalls and cliffs add to the experience of the values of the property (World Heritage Committee, 2010). As well as many microhabitats found within the forest, namely: epiphytic communities; communities of shady earthy walls; shady wet rock walls. Also of importance are caulirosetted communities associated with landslides within the forest and rocky ground of small streams. Streams may hold both madeiran elder (Sambucus lanceolata) community and ebony riverine forests of Persea indica or a willow community of Salix canariensis (Capelo et al., 2005).

Rare and endemic plants

Criterion
(x)
At least 76 vascular plant species endemic to Madeira occur in the site. Endemic trees belonging to the Lauraceae family predominate such as Canary Laurel Apollonias barbujana ssp. barbujana, Laurel Tree Laurus novocanariensis, Madeira stink Laurel (Til) Ocotea foetens, Madeira Mahogany Persea indica, Clethra arborea, Ilex perado subsp. Perado or Heberdenia excelsa. Of the endemic shurbs, particularly interesting are the Pride of Madeira Echium candicans, Honey Spurge Euphorbia mellifera, Madeira Foxglove Isoplexis spectrum, Musschia wollastonii, Sonchus fruticosus, and Melanoselinum decipiens as well as Erica platycodon subsp. maderincola. Bryophythes and lichens are abundant and some species are indicative of high environmental quality and the absence of pollution. Of its large bryophyte flora, 13 liverwort species and 20 moss species are listed as rare or threatened on a European scale (World Heritage Committee, 2010).

Rare and endemic vertebrates

Criterion
(x)
The vertebrates include a limit number of species and a high rate of endemics, including two rare taxa of bats, Madeira Pipistrelle Pipistrellus maderensis and Leisler’s Bat Nyctalus leisleri verrucosus and several birds, such as Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz, Madeiran Firecrest Regulus madeirensis and the Madeiran Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs madeirensis. There is also an endemic species of lizard Madeira Wall Lizard Lacerta dugesii (World Heritage Committee, 2010).

Rare and endemic invertebrates

Criterion
(x)
The invertebrates are apparently more discreet although much more numerous. There are more than 500 endemic species, ranging from molluscs, to arachnids and insects (World Heritage Committee, 2010; Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e Recursos Naturais, 2004). The wolf spider Lycosa blackwalli is endemic to the forest (World Heritage Committee, 2010). About 20% of the nearly 3000 known species of insects are endemic (Regional Forestry Department, 2009).

Assessment information

High Threat
The difficult access to the core areas of Laurisilva of Madeira and long history of protection have until recently resulted in generally low levels of impact in these core areas. However, some threats exist, with invasive species and risks of forest fires being the most serious ones. 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 behavior of forest communities related to decrease water availability. The synergetic effects of fire and spread of invasive species is also of concern. On the other hand, other threats remain at low level or very localized. These include construction or maintenance of roads and opening of new trails for extreme sports (e.g. mountain biking). Concerns have previously been expressed regarding impacts of tourism due to growing demand, however, the impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on visitation will now need to be assessed.
Dams/ Water Management or Use
(Water channels (levadas) and trails maintenance)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Throughout(>50%)
Outside site
Maintenance works on water channels (called "levadas") might represent a threat through the potential introduction of non-native species (for example, for ornamental purposes), as well as direct disturbance, even if the maintenance works are monitored by the management entity IFCN (IUCN Consultation, 2020). In 2015, in the framework of the Life Fura-bardos project “Conservation of the Madeira sparrowhawk and the Laurisilva habitat on the island of Madeira”, all invasive plants along the Levada do Norte, in the area of Caramujo, were replaced with native species with ornamental value (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). However, such use of native species with ornamental value should be carefully managed as it implies the widespread dissemination of plants with reduced genetic variability outside their original distribution areas with a high risk of hybridization leading to a possible outbreeding depression (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
Earthquakes/ Tsunamis, Avalanches/ Landslides
(Landslides)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Scattered(5-15%)
Although some landslides are accidental many can be linked to human activities such as levadas, roads, trails etc. Recent studies have also proven the high risk of landslides in areas covered by invasive species such as Acacia mearnsii and Cytisus scoparius, and therefore a synergic link between distinct threats (Figueiredo, Pupo-Correia & Sequeira 2013, 2016). However, overall this threat remains low and measures are being taken to restore vegetation cover in degraded areas to reduce the reduce surface runoff and therefore reduce the risks of landslides and torrents (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
(Expansion of Invasive Alien Species)
Very High Threat
Inside site
, Throughout(>50%)
Outside site
The presence of invasive plants at the lowest limit of the natural forest, in the transition zones and on former agricultural land, endangers its regeneration and expansion, leading to areas of deterioration and of replacement of the indigenous flora, constituting a serious threat to the balance and consequent permanence of this habitat. Possible introduction of invasive species from agriculture and forestry activities has been previously noted (World Heritage Committee, 2010). The recent spread of some invasive species such as Leptospermum scoparius, Cyathea cooperi or Psidium littorale (among many others) poses a new challenge to management since these plants are able to colonize close to climax communities (IUCN Consultation, 2017). Several projects have been initiated recently to control invasive species, many co-financed by the European Union. While most of them are implemented in the areas bordering the World Heritage site, where the issue is more acute, some areas within the site are also being targeted (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
(Introduced rainbow trout)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Localised(<5%)
Outside site
Introduction of rainbow trout in the water courses of Madeira Island began in 1960, when the activity of recreational fishing in the inland waters started on the island. Although the restocking was regular for many years and extended to many of the streams, this is not the case in these days. There is a trend to gradually reduce restocking actions until their total suspension (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). Even if large scale impacts, e.g. on the landscape are not expected, the impacts on aquatic endemic invertebrates have been previously demonstrated by Hughes et al. (1995) and Ribeiro (2009). However, possible impacts specifically on the Outstanding Universal Value of the site are considered low. 
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
(Rabbits)
Data Deficient
Inside site
, Widespread(15-50%)
Outside site
Although rabbit populations suffer from high fluctuations caused by periodic epidemic episodes (e.g. myxomatosis), they are affecting the regeneration of the forest mainly in areas covered with secondary forest (recent agriculture or grazing, fire). Overall, the numbers have been decreasing though and there is a legal framework that allows density control actions in places where damage is being caused to the vegetation and/or agriculture (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). Of concern is, however, the recent implementation of breeding programs for rabbits (https://ifcn.madeira.gov.pt/fundos/proderam/construcao-de-infraestruturas-para-a-criacao-de-coelho-bravo-em-cativeiro-na-ilha-da-madeira-e-porto-santo-e-beneficiacao-do-centro-cinegetico-da-casa-velha.html). However, the current level of possible impacts on the World Heritage site specifically is unclear.
 
Roads/ Railroads
(Road maintenance)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Scattered(5-15%)
Outside site
Road maintenance works in the past almost always included planting of exotic invasive species (Agapanthus praecox, Hydrangea sp. etc.) (IUCN Consultation, 2014; Abreu, 2015); however, this practice has been now limited, at least within the World Heritage site (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
 
Fire/ Fire Suppression
(Forest fires)
High Threat
Inside site
, Throughout(>50%)
Outside site
Threat from forest fires has been increasing over the recent years. The expansion of invasive fire-prone species that are now linking the south slope of the island and the forest site areas as well as the expansion of many fire-prone invasive species inside the area itself strongly increase the risk of fire. Climatic changes will also directly and indirectly increase the risk of fire (IUCN Consultation, 2014). However, the capacity to combat forest fires has also been increased significantly in recent years. A plan for the prevention of and watch for forest fires (PPVIF) was put in place in 2015. In 2018, the implementation of the Plan was further reinforced with aerial means (a helicopter) and 2 heavy vehicles acquired by IFCN. Drones are also now being used for surveillance. Additional forest firefighters were recruited in 2019 (IUCN Consutlation, 2020a). Over the last 7 years (2013-2018) the total area of Laurisilva forest affected by forest fires was 65 ha. This represents a reduction in relation to the previous 5-year period (2008-2012), which was 1248 ha. And only one forest fire occurred within the World Heritage site recently, namely the fire 2012 in Terra Chã where 70 ha burnt (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). Expansion of fire-prone invasive species has been of concern, but there are projects underway to reduce the fuel load in transition zones, in line with the Regional Plan for Forestry Management of Madeira (PROF-RAM) approved in 2015 (https://ifcn.madeira.gov.pt/florestas/prof-ram/relatorio-tecnico-do-prof-ram.html). The presence of non-native fire-prone species along secondary roads also results in an increased fire risk. Presence of herbivores (goats and cattle) in some areas of the broader laurisilva forest is also linked to the spread of alien fire-prone plants (mainly Fabaceae, such as Cytisus, Ulex and Acacia) (IUCN Consultaiton, 2020b).
 
Tourism/ visitors/ recreation
(Tourism)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Scattered(5-15%)
Outside site
Tourism within the World Heritage site is concentrated along the course of trails located in areas with a very demanding terrain that does not allow hikers to leave the trail. As concerns have been expressed regarding surpassing the carrying capacity on some trails, various projects have been initiated to improve and recover some walks. The most important of these projects is being implemented in Rabaçal, including improvement of trails, levadas and tourist paths and it is expected that the project will allow for a greater dispersion of the existing load (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). A recent study monitored two popular sites as part of a larger carrying capacity project and reported a maximum of 664 people using the trail at “Levada do Risco” and 1486 at "Vereda dos Balcões” (Mota et al., 2018). A particular concern linked to high use of trails is the possible spread of non-native species by visitors. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 on visitation levels remain to be seen.
 
Tourism/ visitors/ recreation
(Extreme sport activities and organized events (ultra-trail, canyoning))
Low Threat
Inside site
, Scattered(5-15%)
Outside site
The recent expansion of use of forest and other areas by people practicing “nature sports” could prove to be unsustainable, in fact in some major sport events hundreds and in some cases thousands of people go through formerly otherwise scarcely used walks (or new ones), the effects of such highly intense use needs to be studied. The use of special and sensitive habitats such as waterfalls (covered with peculiar plant communities) for canyoning was not evaluated and will certainly prove some (variable) degree of habitat destruction (fragments of bryophytic communities are seen in some promoting videos floating around the tourists as a result of such activities). The expansion of these activities and introduction of new types of use (e.g. canyoning) in recent years has been of concern (IUCN Consultation, 2020b). However, overall they remain concentrated in certain areas only (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
Habitat Shifting/ Alteration, Droughts, Temperature extremes
(Increasing temperatures)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Throughout(>50%)
Outside site
Recent studies prove that some temperature changes can already be detected. Temperature changes (increases) lead not only to long term ecosystem shift, loss of ecosystem resilience, loss of quality or even collapse, but also to increased fire risk. 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 (Figueiredo & Sequeira, 2012). Temperature increase and the increase of drought periods can lead to exponential increase in fire risk during August and September.
Low Threat
A number of projects had been proposed in the past, which could have potentially threatened the World Heritage site, however, most of the them have been abandoned. Upgrading of an existing road is being considered between São Vicente (Ginjas) and Estanquinhos; however, the potential impacts of this still need to be confirmed, since an Environmental Impact Assessment of the project is currently still ongoing. The risk of introduction of new invasive species and/or phytopathogens is considered one of the most serious potential threats. The change in forest composition due to the expansion (and arrival) of new plant invasive species, the potential increase in average temperature (due to climate change), along with the increase in water demand can lead to an increase in fire risk, and increase in the burnt area. Although at the present moment the global COVID-19 pandemic has almost stopped touristic activity, further expansion of tourism or sport activities in the future would be of concern, if left uncontrolled.
Roads/ Railroads
(Construction of new roads)
Data Deficient
Outside site
A proposal to cover with asphalt a road that connects São Vicente (Ginjas) to Estanquinhos, on the plateau Paul da Serra, has existed for several years. An environmental impact assessment of the project is currently ongoing (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). While the results of the EIA are not yet available, in general such upgrading of the road it is expected to result in possible further spread of non native species, increase in water flow and increase in human presence in a so far almost pristine area, to name a few (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
 
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
(Introduction of new invasive species)
High Threat
Inside site
, Extent of threat not known
Outside site
The uncontrolled use of species (introduced in Madeira by different means including horticultural, forestry enterprises, gardening, etc.) is no doubt a serious reason for concern. Potential introduction of new invasive species remains a high threat (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species
(Possible introduction of fungi/bacteria or other agents affecting the dominant forest species)
Data Deficient
Inside site
, Scattered(5-15%)
Outside site
At least a few new phytopathogens were recently detected on Persea americana (avocado) clearly indicating the possibility of agricultural plagues to spread to native species (Persea indica, a major component of Laurisilva forest, belongs to the same genus). In 2018, the Strategic Programme of Forestry Plant Health of the Autonomous Region of Madeira (PEFFRAM) was created to develop a set of general strategic and operational objectives in this area. It aims at reducing the number of risks threatning plants health such as introduction, installation and dispersion of harmful biotic agents (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). However, this matter requires further research to better understand possible impacts and counter-measures required.
 
Invasive Non-Native/ Alien Species, Introduced Modified Genetic Material
(Recent changes in animal welfare laws and effects on the spread of common cat)
Low Threat
Inside site
, Scattered(5-15%)
Outside site
The recent approval of national and regional (Madeira) laws related to animal welfare including cats and dogs is leading to an uncontrolled spread of common cats. Large numbers can be seen in some of the more important trails in Madeira (such as Queimadas), their effects on native birds are not studied but common cats are known to be an important threat to both birds and bats. Cats are known to cause severe damage to endemic Zino's petrel (Pterodroma madeira) (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
Habitat Shifting/ Alteration
(Change in wind patterns)
Data Deficient
Inside site
, Extent of threat not known
Outside site
Madeira’s climate is largely influenced by the Trade winds (vientos alisios), a shift in the wind patterns (which is expected with climate change) will have a large influence on water availability. Trade winds are responsible for the sea of clouds in Madeira which allow the establishment of laurisilva forest by providing high humidity in an otherwise dry environment (Petit and Prudent, 2010).
The difficult access to the core areas of Laurisilva of Madeira and long history of protection have until recently resulted in generally low levels of impact in these core areas. However, some threats exist, with invasive species and risks of forest fires being the most serious ones. The synergetic effects of fire and spread of invasive species is also of concern and introduction of new invasive species and/or pathogens is also considered the most serious potential threat. Other threats remain at low level or very localized. Concerns have previously been expressed regarding impacts of tourism due to growing demand, however, the impacts of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on visitation will now need to be assessed. However, further expansion of tourism or sport activities in the future would be of concern, if left uncontrolled.
Management system
Mostly Effective
Recently the former “Direcção Regional de Florestas e Conservação da Natureza” and “Serviços do Parque Natural da Madeira” have been merged into a new structure - IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza) therefore concentrating management responsibilities in one sole public institute, leading consequently to gains in capacity and potentially larger financial resources (https://ifcn.madeira.gov.pt).
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 (World Heritage Committee, 2010). Before the approval of this management plan, several key stakeholders were invited to give inputs and improve strategic objectives.
 
Effectiveness of management system
Some Concern
Limited allocation of funds leading to a limited enforcement of management measures has been previously noted as a concern. And a number of existing threats indicated inadequate level of management responses. However, recently management actions have been scaled up to address the threat from invasive species and forest fires (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). However, the responses related to monitoring and control of invasive species could be further strengthened. While no independent monitoring of the results of the implementation of the Laurisilva of Madeira Management Plan nor a specific management effectiveness assessment have been undertaken, as part of the monitoring mandatory in the framework of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, regular assessment of the state of conservation of the habitats and species found in the World Heritage site is undertaken, which can serve as indicators of the state of conservation of the site (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
 
Boundaries
Some Concern
The World Heritage site includes the best preserved areas of Laurisilva on Madeira. Its boundaries were defined after an exhaustive field study to identify the most significant areas of remaining vegetation (World Heritage Committee, 2010). The whole site is enclosed within the Madeira Nature Park, which was established 1982, occupying two thirds of Madeira Island and embracing an ample buffer zone for the habitats of greater conservation value. The integrity of the World Heritage site should be further enhanced by buffer zones that are not part of the inscribed site but should function to protect it from threats originating from outside its boundaries (World Heritage Committee, 2010).
 
Integration into regional and national planning systems
Highly Effective
The site is under the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive of the European Union (adapted to regional law nº5/2006/M of 2nd March) and since 1992 is also a Biogenetic Reserve of the Council of Europe.
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) (World Heritage Committee, 2010; Regional Forestry Department, 2009).
Relationships with local people
Some Concern
The site is largely uninhabited and uncultivated (approximately 500 people live in the buffer zone) (World Heritage Committee, 2010).
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.
The main difficulty with local population regarding site management is related to the issue that some crops areas get damaged by Madeira Laurel Pigeon (Laurissilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009). There is an on-going work with the farmers affected in terms of information and awareness raising, which, although insufficient to fully overcome this problem, does minimise it. Between 2017 and 2018 direct support was given to around 300 farmers. Application of measures that lead to the destruction of birds that are proven to be feeding in farmers’ fields is accompanied with an annual census. The results have shown that the population in the Laurisilva Forest is stable and increasing in other parts of the island (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
 
Legal framework
Mostly Effective
The legal framework for the site is sufficient. The site has strong and effective legal protection under regional, national and European Law. The site is gazetted under Madeiran law, with around half of the area as a Strict Reserve and the remainder as a Partial Reserve (World Heritage Commitee, 2010).
Law enforcement
Some Concern
Enforcement measures have been carried out by forestry police (Regional forestry department) and by wardens (Vigilantes da Natureza) from Madeira Natural Park (Regional Forestry Department, 2009). However, current levels of enforcement could be enhanced (IUCN Consultation, 2014), particularly to guarantee replacements of positions that become vacant due to retirement and other issues. Recently, a process to hire 10 new Forestry Police has been ongoing (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). Both police and wardens are often involved in conservation actions, a fact that although is positive is also an indicator of lack of human resources, leading to a diminishing capacity for the police and wardens to focus on law enforcement activities (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
Implementation of Committee decisions and recommendations
Mostly Effective
Regarding the construction of the cable car at Rabaçal, the State Party provided, as requested, a detailed report and the environmental impact assessment (EIA). The State Party also replied to questions regarding Laurisilva Pigeon culling (UNESCO, 2009).
Sustainable use
Some Concern
The Laurisilva of Madeira Management Plan (2009) presents several ideas to improve the use of the site by visitors, promoting its sustainable use. This includes the improvement of leisure infrastructure, reception and environmental interpretation center, improvement of footpaths, etc. There is a strong effort to improve the conditions for visitors, and shortly a new interpretation centre will open at Rabaçal (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). There is however a limited connection between improvement of facilities and conditions for users and financing of conservation actions, with conservations actions  dependent on EU financed projects (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
Sustainable finance
Some Concern
A number of funding instruments and measures (regional budget, European funds, etc.) are available. There are some possibilities to obtain additional funding such as 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 2016, a discussion was initiated with the stakeholders to promote the sustainability of the management of the World Heritage site through a greater degree of direct involvement. However, a model for this remains to be developed. Simultaneously, IFCN place great importance on the creation of interpretation centres with sales points and on the concession of some spaces under its jurisdiction (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). However, there is concern that the need to allocate funding to creation and maintenance of interpretation facilities reduces the remaining budgets available for conservation activities (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
Staff capacity, training, and development
Some Concern
Current human resources were considered sufficient at the time of the development of the management plan (Laurissilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009). 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. Recently, measures have been undertaken to reinforce the permament staff of the management body (IFCN) and to hire additional forestry police agents (IUCN Consultation, 2020).
Education and interpretation programs
Mostly Effective
There is an education programme that enhances the understanding of values of the site which identify the target audience, the topics to be discussed as well the activities to be developed in order to promote the involvement of local population and visitors on site management (Laurisilva Madeira Management Plan, 2009).
IFCN has a Training and Communications Division that implements an cross-sectorial awareness programme directed to different target audiences (www.ifcn.madeira.gov.pt). However, Information concerning conservation preventive actions for visitors is limited (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).  
 
Tourism and visitation management
Some Concern
There is some promotion of the site’s natural values in local and national tourism policies and there exists some tourism infrastructure with information for all visitors.
However, a need to develop further specific activities, 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., have previously been identified (Regional Forestry Department, 2009). Given the strategic importance of the World Heritage site for the Region, there is a Tourism Management Plan that address different issues related to tourism (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). Of concern is the lack of control of the number of visitors on the trails and the absence of mechanisms to limit those numbers, if considered necessary (IUCN Consultation, 2020b).
 
Monitoring
Some Concern
A few of the natural values of Laurisilva of Madeira are adequately and systematically monitored through the development, since 1986, of several projects, such as monitoring of Madeira Laurel Pigeon. These projects have been developed by regional entities (forestry department and Madeira Natural Park) sometimes associated with academic or research centers. The last management plan approved in 2009 was improved based on these monitoring projects (Regional Forestry Department, 2009). As a Natura 2000 Site, the area is subject to regular monitoring and periodical reports under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives (IUCN Consultation, 2020a). However, certain monitoring gaps exist.
 
Research
Mostly Effective
Various studies have been developed by academic or research centers in collaboration with regional entities namely forestry department and Madeira Natural Park (Regional Forestry Department, 2009). Extensive scientific research has been conducted by the University of Madeira.
Recent examples include studies to assess the impacts of climate change on pollinating arthropods, and the threat of biotic interactions between arthropods and biodiversity (Projectos MACDIV and 2gether) or the impact of tourism on the trails (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
 
There are a number of management tools and the site has a good management plan approved by the Regional Government in 2009, but its full implementation is somewhat hindered by budget constraints. A new structure - IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza) has recently been created, therefore concentrating management responsibilities in one sole public institute, leading consequently to gains in capacity. Recently, measures have also been undertaken to reinforce the permanent staff of the management body (IFCN) and to hire additional forestry police agents. A number of threats, particularly forest fires and invasive species, exist and will require further attention; however, recent increase in management responses, including increase in fire response capacity, is encouraging. Nonetheless, several constrains remain, including lack of financial resources.
Assessment of the effectiveness of protection and management in addressing threats outside the site
Some Concern
Regional Forestry Department (2009) includes measures and operational plan to prevent threats from external factors such as forest fires, diseases, alien species and high numbers of daily visitors. Forest fires and spread of invasive species are the two most serious threats originating from outside the site's boundaries. While both issues will require further attention, recent increase in management responses, including increase in fire response capacity, are encouraging.
Best practice examples
Recent good practices include: strong Christmas campaigns to limit moss collection ion the wild (2015-2016) , Re-introduction of surveillance towers on the fire surveillance system (2015-), new approach to fire risk and fire surveillance (by the IFCN). The renewal of structures related to the forestry guard’s activities (including surveillance towers and forestry police stations).
World Heritage values

An outstanding relict of a previously widespread laurel forest type

High Concern
Trend
Stable
Laurisilva of Madeira remains an outstanding example of the previously widespread laurel forest type. However, it is under pressure from a number of threats, particularly invasive species and impacts of climate change. Some suggest (Figueiredo & Sequeira, 2016; 11, 12) that the expansion of invasive species is far from having reached its theoretical potential limit in the current climate and this will be further facilitated by climate change. Given the impact of these factors on the dynamics of this ecosystem (Figueiredo & Sequeira 2016ab), it is predicted that it will consist of the expansion in altitude but a retreat in lower altitudes and, simultaneously, loss of higher altitude habitats due to the effects of climate change. However, there are many knowledge gaps particularly in the area of physiological ecology, providing enough uncertainty in these predictions (including the synergic contribution of several processes such as plant invasion, fire susceptibility, water use and ecosystem change).

Rare and endemic plants

Low Concern
Trend
Stable
According to the IUCN Red List (2012) some of the plant species listed present in the site are Endangered or Near threatened. However, their population trend is largely unknown; such is in the case of Thamnobryum fernandesii or Culcita macrocarpa and many others. Nevertheless, most of the plant species, even plants considered critically endangered, endangered or least concern, present a stable trend or even increasing populations (IUCN Red List, 2012). A Monitoring Plan exists for the Natura 2000 site in the framework of the EU Bird and Habitat Directives, which includes monitoring of plant species (IUCN Consultaiton, 2020a), however, no systematic assessments is available specifically for the World Heritage site. 
A recent study of bryophytes and macro lichens in the World Heritage site showed that areas that were subject to human-related disturbances harbored on average 20% less bryophyte and macro lichen species (Boch et al., 2019). As effects of climate change are predicted to increase, other disturbances will need to be minimized.

Rare and endemic vertebrates

High Concern
Trend
Data Deficient
The endemic avifauna associated with the World Heritage site is thoroughly monitored through specific projects, such as the case of the Madeira Laurel Pigeon (Columba trocaz), or wider ranging projects such as the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of the Archipelago of Madeira, in the case of other species, specifically, the Madeiran Firecrest (Regulus madeirensis) and the Madeiran Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs madeirensis). The population of the Macaronesian Sparrowhawk was assessed as “less abundant” or “rare” and estimated at 100-500 pairs in the Atlas (Equipa Atlas, 2013) compared to the previous assessment of "probably abundant" from 1999 (Oliveira, 1999; however see BirdLife International, 2015). Forest fires are considered one of the main threats that, if not prevented, can cause decline in the population of the Macaronesian Sparrowhawk in the future (Hervías et al., 2017). Bats make up a group over which a greater monitoring effort is required (IUCN Consultation, 2020a), with Pipistrellus maderensis, Nyctalus leisleri verrucosus and Plecotus austriacus assessed as Critically Endangered in Madeira Island (Jesus et al., 2008).

Rare and endemic invertebrates

Low Concern
Trend
Stable
The entomofauna of the Laurisilva of Madeira has been the subject of many studies. Recent examples include the project "SLAM - Long-term monitoring of the terrestrial arthropod fauna associated to the Laurisilva canopy", underway since 2016.
Overall, the habitats preserved in the Laurisilva of Madeira still support many rare endemic species of arthropods (Boieiro et al., 2018). However, a recent study showed a decline in either range or population size for seven species of spiders endemic to Madeira and Selvagens archipelagos, due to habitat degradation, invasive plants that reduce quality of habitat, forest fires and possible competition for resources from invasive congeners (Cardoso et al., 2017). The study further concluded that most endemic spiders have relatively low extinction risk due to the good condition and protection of the laurisilva forests; however, there are a number of species requiring urgent protection measures (Cardoso et al., 2017).
In regard to molluscs, their monitoring is also included in the plan for the Monitoring of the Natura 2000 site (IUCN Consultation, 2020a).
Assessment of the current state and trend of World Heritage values
Low Concern
Trend
Stable
Although Laurisilva of Madeira has largely maintained its natural ecological and biological processes, it is under pressure from several threats, including the increase in fire risk, the expansion of invasive species. Recent increase in management responses to address these two threats represents a positive step; however measures to address monitoring and control of invasive species could be further strengthened. Potential increase in water demand resulting with more water being drained from the site has also been of concern and if combined with reducing rainfall and increasing temperatures, as well as with the expansion of invasive species can result in the risk of forest regression becoming a serious issue. At present, several plant and vertebrate species seem to present stable population trends, but for most species there are no consistent data specifically for the World Heritage site, even though monitoring is undertaken for the Natura 2000 site, overlapping with the World Heritage site, in the framework of the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. A number of recent monitoring and research projects assessed trends in some invertebrate species, concluding that while overall, many remain well preserved in the Laurisilva forest, some species will require additional conservation measures.

Additional information

Direct employment
The protection and management of this site is important for the creation of jobs such as wardens and forestry police, as well as nature guides.
Carbon sequestration,
Soil stabilisation,
Flood prevention,
Water provision (importance for water quantity and quality),
Pollination
This forest has hydrophilic characteristics and plays a predominant role in the island´s hydrological balance. In great extent it is responsible for the collection of water from the mists and from vertical precipitation (World Heritage Committee, 2010). This forest occupies a large area of Madeira island and it has a major contribution for soil stabilization (avoiding landslides) and for water quality and quantity. Also plays an important role on climate change mitigation by providing significant carbon sequestration.
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Climate change
Impact level - High
Trend - Increasing
Invasive species
Impact level - High
Trend - Increasing
Habitat change
Impact level - Low
Trend - Continuing
The observed expansion of invasive species reduces the benefits of native vegetation, there is strong correlation between an increase of areas covered with invasive species and increased risk of erosion or even flooding. Several projects to build further dams and upgrade water channels, seem to disregard the role of water as an obvious factor shaping the landscape and favoring the expansion of drought adapted plant species (most of them invasive). The synergic effects of these actions, fire prone invasive plant species and climate change will lead to an increase of wildfires (affecting very large areas) inside the site.
History and tradition
Laurisilva of Madeira contains an important testimony of human use. The settlers of Madeira constructed water channels, known as levadas, which run through the forest following the contours of the landscape, and clinging to the cliffs and steep-sided valleys. Typically 80-150 cm wide and constructed of stone or more recently concrete, they carry water from the forest to hydropower stations and to the towns of the south, where they provide essential drinking water and irrigation supplies. Along the levadas there are paths typically 1-2m wide, which allow access to the otherwise almost impenetrable forest. None has been built for 70 years, but the present ones are carefully maintained (World Heritage Committee, 2010).
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Invasive species
Impact level - Moderate
Trend - Continuing
Outdoor recreation and tourism
The site is very important for nature tourism associated to levadas, birdwatching, sports practice (canyoning) and scientific tourism related to fauna and flora endemism.
Factors negatively affecting provision of this benefit
Overexploitation
Impact level - Moderate
Trend - Continuing
Beyond its paramount intrinsic conservation value, the Laurisilva of Madeira provides benefits not only to the inhabitants of the island of Madeira but also for global community. The site has a major importance for soil stabilization and for water quality and quantity. It plays an important role on climate change mitigation by providing significant carbon sequestration. Tourism represents one of the most important assets of Madeira, as recognized by the main stakeholders. However, a better awareness of the importance of conservation of the site to ensure continued provision of these benefits is needed.
Organization Brief description of Active Projects Website
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
http://www.atlasdasaves.netmadeira.com/
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
http://www.sra.pt/jarbot/
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
http://www.pnm.pt/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35%3Apombo-trocaz&catid=47%3Agestao-esp-hab&Itemid=64&lang=pt
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.
http://www.pnm.pt/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44%3Acontrolo-de-plantas-invasoras&catid=47%3Agestao-esp-hab&Itemid=64&lang=pt
5 IFCN Eradication of invasive species in boundary areas (Ulex and Cytisus)
Several small projects
6 IFCN "Conservation of Macaronesian Sparrowhawk and Laurissilva habitat in Madeira Island"
https://ifcn.madeira.gov.pt/biodiversidade/projetos/life-fura-bardos.html
7 IFCN Life Maciço Montanhoso
https://ifcn.madeira.gov.pt/biodiversidade/projetos/life-macico-montanhoso.html
8 DRFCN PROF-RAM (Plano Regional de Ordenamento Florestal da Região Autónoma da Madeira)
https://ifcn.madeira.gov.pt/florestas/prof-ram/relatorio-tecnico-do-prof-ram.html
9 DRFCN IFRAM 2 (Inventário Florestal da Região Autónoma da Madeira)
https://ifcn.madeira.gov.pt/florestas/inventarios-florestais/relatorio-final-ifram2.html
10 University of Madeira MAC/4.6d/190 - MACFLOR - Atlas Macaronésico de Biologia Reprodutiva com Aplicacões à Conservacão. Marcadores de força e ameaça com análise de paternidade genética
11 University of Madeira MAC2/4.6d/386 - MACFLOR2 - Atlas de biologia reprodutiva da flora macaronésica

References

References
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19
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20
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21
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22
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24
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