As we have recently been discussing under the "Top sites" subject - Natural sites perhaps don't get the attention they deserve - especially those lacking "Iconic Megafauna"!
The "Laurisilva" of Madeira fits that category. I can remember having a couple of pleasant days walking the Levadas but one tree looks rather like another to the eye of those uneducated in such matters.
Those of you who can get to see BBC programs by one means or another should have a look at the documentary I have linked to below. It has concentrated on the evolutionary aspects of 3 types of islands using Hawaii, Madagascar and Madeira as the examples. I found the Madeiran one very interesting for "explaining" the unique aspects of that island - including, but not limited to, the "Laurisilva" - lots of plants, snails, spiders, lizards and beetles!! They may lack the obvious visual appeal of the Mountain Gorilla or Orang Outang etc but they certainly have their interest! You will have to come to terms with its distinctly geriatric and untrendy presenter who clearly doesn't care a damn about what he wears -so different from the normal youthful BBC action man/woman who often seems to grace our screens!!
See - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06zdkds/natures-wonderlands-islands-of-evolutio n-3-madeira-island-arkELS
- could you add the Laurisilva to the "Gigantism" connection please. Madeira's most famous example - the Desertas Wolf Spider - doesn't live in the Laurisilva but that iconic plant the "Giant Parsley" does (as do others)!! See http://madeiraislands.net/blog/tag/insular-gigantism/ALSO
I note that we have the Madeiran Laurislva site allocated to the "Eocene" period - after this program I am not sure this is correct. The Laurisilva itself may go back to that period in Europe before the Ice Ages largely wiped it out BUT Madeira itself is more recent than that. So - which period do we use - that when the flora etc evolved albeit not on Madeira (Eocene) or the period when it established itself on the Island? As far as I can see the Island didn't arise until the Miocene and only became "stable" later - so it can't be earlier than that( "The volcano formed atop an east-west rift in the oceanic crust along the African Plate, beginning during the Miocene epoch over 5 million years ago, continuing into the Pleistocene until about 700,000 years ago. This was followed by extensive erosion, producing two large amphitheatres open to south in the central part of the island."