Trees, which are an essential component to the lifeblood and survival of our fragile ecosystem here on Earth have always had a dominating effect here on the Azores islands, with the landscape covered with dense forests and green pastures as far as the eye can see. Here in the mid-Atlantic ridge where only a few island chains exist; which are scattered like dots across the vast Atlantic ocean, exists a rare forest known as Laurisilva or Laurel. The mystery and magic of this forest which has also been referred to as a “Cloud forest” or a “Water forest” is said to be some 15 million years old; with only a few places where they still exist left on Earth. The laurisilva forests were predominately all over Europe up until the middle ages when slowly with the growing expansion of cities and populations throughout Europe caused mass deforestation of the Laurel forests to take place; wiping them out completely on the European continent by the 20th century. Here on the Azores islands; which are located 850 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal, are one of the few places where you can still find yourself wandering through these ancient forests, that have seemingly gone untouched throughout history here. A delicate alliance between man and nature, these ancients forests in the Azores should not be taken for granted and need to be preserved to continue the harmonious balance that exists here in the Azores. The forest is home to ferns, moss, evergreen trees, and over 150 endemic plants in this thick forest. The moist trade winds that blow through the Azores is one of the main reasons why the Laurisilva forests in the Azores have been able to survive.
The only other places on Earth where this type of forest still exists is on the island of Madeira, which also is a Portuguese island south of the Azores archipelago and the canary islands; all-island chains on the Atlantic coast of Europe and Africa. It is now against the law in the Azores to cut down any trees that are endemic to the region, which has prevented possible deforestation of a unique ecosystem that is vital to man’s survival here on these Atlantic islands. The location of the precious Laurisilva forests in the Azores are located in Furnas, Ribeira Grande, and the largest in the region, and with the highest point on the island of Sao Miguel in Nordeste.