Madeira is a magnet for the ecologically inclined. I am not the first to offer up my heart to the enchanting laurel trees, and I’m sure I’m far from the last. There is a magic in their majesty. However, as is the case for many natural wonders, the survival of this ancient forest hangs in the balance.

It is common for islands to have many endemics, their isolation from the rest of the world providing a safe haven, the gift of time and solace. Madeira escaped being frozen over during the last ice age, so it guards the descendants of many species lost elsewhere in time. Some 30% of all naturalised ...


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