Nature Reserves

Ilhas Desertas Nature Reserve

The Ilhas Desertas (total area of 1 421 hectares) include the Ilhéu Chão, Deserta Grande and Bugio. They are at about 22 miles to the southeast of the town of Funchal.

The islands constitute the last refuge of the monk seal named MonachusMonachus. The presence of these mammals led the Regional Government of Madeira to create the protected area of Ilhas Desertas in 1990. In 1992 the European Council classified these islands as Bioenergetics Reserve.

It is important to mention that the total ban of scuba fishing in this reserve. Advance permission from the park authorities is also needed before any vessel can anchor or visit Deserta Grande Island.

No boats are allowed to sail through the southern part of the reserve. 


Ilhas Selvagens Nature Reserve

The Selvagens islands include two groups of small islands. Most notable of these are Selvagem Grande, Selvagem Pequena and Ilhéu de Fora. They are about 180 miles from Madeira Island and form the southernmost territory belonging to Portugal.
Ilhas Selvagens Nature Reserve was created in 1971 and is one of the oldest in Portugal. Today, it’s the only Portuguese reserve formally classified as such by the EC.
The flora of the Selvagens Islands at its most impressive on Selvagem Pequena and Ilhéu de Fora; here grazing animals have never been introduced. Amongst the ninety species that make up the plant heritage of the Selvagens Islands, ten are endemic.
Because of the favourable nesting conditions for seabirds, these islands are also known as bird sanctuaries.


Garajau Parcial Nature Reserve

This reserve, created in 1986, is on the south coast of Madeira Island, at the extreme east of Funchal Bay. It is a marine park that includes a strip running from the high tide line and into the sea to a depth of 50 metres.

Amongst the fauna of this park are larger fish such as the (Epinephelus guaza) "mero" in Portuguese and also a variety of other coastal species. Groups of Atlantic manta rays (manta birostris) can be seen here every year. Their size and graceful movement has transformed the area into an international attraction.

Any fishing activity is forbidden inside the park. Navigation is also highly controlled. Only small boats are allowed to approach the beaches. There is infrastructure and support for scubadiving.

Ponta of S. Lourenço Nature Reserve


At the east end of Madeira is the Ponta de S. Lourenço Nature Reserve, set up in 1982.

It has a particular fauna and flora, thanks to important local groups pratically confined to this area. It also has an observation post for environmental education.



Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve

This area falls under the administration of Santana, and was the last park to be created in 1997. It was established in response to demands from the local population and includes a strip of sea, a potential habitat for sea wolf and a small island on which one can see rare plants that inhabit the cliff habitats of Macaronesia.
There is open access by boat, but underwater fishing and the use of fishing nets are forbidden.
The "Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve" site has total area of 1710 hectares and total length of 6259 meters.
It is exclusively marine, including the islets of "Ilhéu da Rocha das Vinhas" and "Ilhéu da Viúva". This Reserve is integrated in the Natura 2000 Network.
It is located on the north coast of Madeira Island, in the Municipality of Santana. The main access is made through the Belvedere of "Rocha do Navio", along a path sculpted on the rock or by telepheric.
The name "Rocha do Navio" comes from the wreckage of a Dutch schooner in the 19th century, as a result of strong winds.


Porto Santo Network of Protected Marine Areas

The Porto Santo Network of Protected Marine Areas comprises the areas of the six islets around the island of Porto Santo, namely, the islets of Cenouras, Baixo or Cal, Cima or Dragoeiros, also known nowadays as Farol, Fora or Rocha do Nordeste, Fonte da Areia and Ferro, and the marine area surrounding the islets of Cal and Cima, including the spot where the shipwreck of O Madeirense lies.

All surface areas of the six islets are a Special Conservation Area, part of the Natura 2000 network.

The islets, in spite of their inhospitable appearance, hold a natural heritage that demands conservation, for their scientific and natural important features, as well as, outstanding landscape.

The shoreline vegetation displays important examples of the coastal flora of Macaronesia.

They are also favoured locations for sea birds to nest.

There is abundant and varied sea fauna, in part due to the shipwreck of O Madeirense, which has become an excellent location for diving.
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