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UNESCO declares Madeira's Laurissilva forest a world heritage nature site!

The "Laurissilva" or forest of lauraceas madeirense is a protected area towards the higher altitudes of Madeira Island and extends as a thick spine across much of the island's lateral centre.

The Laurissilva Forest
The Laurissilva forest with the leaves of the valuable hard wood "Vinhático" tree in the foreground.
Photo courtesy of the Regional Secretary of Economy

In 1996 the regional government of Madeira included the forest on a nationally compiled list of several important natural and ecological sites/areas of Portugal that may qualify for World Heritage Site status. The list was prepared to nominate the important natural heritage reserves evident all over Portugal to be evaluated and looked over by the committee for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In February of 1999 the National Commission for UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited the island and studied the Laurissilva first hand. They compiled the final report needed for the candidature of the forest to UNESCO as a World Heritage Nature Site.

UNESCO - World Heritage Sites logoIn Paris five months later the report led to the recommendation of the forest to World Heritage Site status by the United Nations Committee for World Heritage Sites. The success of this recommendation and the classification of the Laurissilva as a World Heritage Site was on the 04th December 1999 in Morocco - the locale for the last meeting of the UNESCO authority on this matter.

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