Despite the fact that humans have occupied the territory of Portugal for thousands of years, something still remains of the original vegetation. In Gerês both mature deciduous and coniferous forests can be found, an extremely rare worldwide mature Mediterranean forest remain in some parts of the Arrábida mountain and a subtropical laurissilva forest, dating back to the Tertiary period, covers its largest continuous area in the world in the Madeira main island. Due to the human population decrease and rural exodus, Pyrenean oak and other local native trees are colonizing many abandoned areas.
Boar, Iberian red deer, roe deer, and the Iberian wild goat, are reported to have expanded greatly during recent decades. Boars were found recently roaming at night inside large urban areas, like in Setubal. Protected areas of Portugal include one national park (Portuguese: Parque Nacional), 12 natural parks (Portuguese: Parque Natural), nine natural reserves (Portuguese: Reserva Natural), five natural monuments (Portuguese: Monumento Natural), and seven protected landscapes (Portuguese: Paisagem Protegida), which include the Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, the Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela and the Paul d’Arzila.
These natural environments are shaped by diverse flora, and include widespread species of pine (especially the Pinus pinaster and Pinus pinea species), the English oak (Quercus robur), the Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica) the chestnut (Castanea sativa), the cork-oak (Quercus suber), the holm oak (Quercus ilex) or the Portuguese oak (Quercus faginea). Due to their economic value, some species of the genus Eucalyptus were introduced and are now common, despite their environmental impact.
Left-to-right: an Estrela Mountain Dog, a Eurasian otter, a European bee-eater, and a Lusitano horse.
Laurisilva is a unique type of subtropical rainforest, which nowadays, in Europe, is only restricted to the Iberian Peninsula: in the Azores, and in particular on the island of Madeira, there are large forests of endemic Laurisilva forests (the latter protected as a natural heritage preserve). There are several species of diverse mammalian fauna, including the fox, badger, iberian lynx, iberian wolf, wild goat (Capra pyrenaica), wild cat (Felis silvestris), hare, weasel, polecat, chameleon, mongoose, civet, the occasional brown bear and many others. Portugal is an important stopover for migratory birds, in places such as Cape St. Vincent or the Monchique mountains, where thousands of birds cross from Europe to Africa during the autumn or in the spring (return migration).
Most of the avian species congregate along the Iberian Peninsula since it is the closest stopover between Northern Europe and Africa. Six hundred bird species occur in Portugal (either for nesting or during the course of migration), and annually there are new registries of nesting species. The archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are transient stopover for American, European, and African birds, while continental Portugal mostly encounters European and African bird species.
There are more than 100 freshwater fish species, varying from the giant European catfish (in the Tagus International Natural Park) to some small and endemic species that live only in small lakes (along the western portion of country, for example). Some of these rare and specific species are highly endangered because of habitat loss, pollution and drought. Up-welling along the west coast of Portugal makes the sea extremely rich in nutrients and diverse species of marine fish; the Portuguese marine waters are one of the richest in the world. Marine fish species are more common, and include thousands of species, such as the sardine (Sardina pilchardus), tuna and Atlantic mackerel. Bioluminescent species are also well represented (including species in different colour spectrum and forms), like the glowing plankton that are possible to observe in some beaches.
There are many endemic insect species, most only found in certain parts of Portugal, while other species are more widespread like the stag beetle (Lucanus cervus) and the cicada. The Macaronesian islands (Azores and Madeira) have many endemic species (like birds, reptiles, bats, insects, snails and slugs) that evolved independently from other regions of Portugal. In Madeira, for example, it is possible to observe more than 250 species of land gastropods.tourism#tour#worldtour #bestplace#nature#beauty enjoy#experience#history