By: Peter Sziemer(Author)
288 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour maps
Madeira has become a popular holiday destination. This book tries to fill the lack of available literature on natural history of the island. Based on the author's observations and experiences during stays on Madeira, scientific literature, and useful information from people on the island, he here gives a short introduction to the natural history of the island covering its geology, fauna and climate.
There was little information about natural history in Madeira when I first visited in 1996, so this book was a wonderful find when I returned in 2006. It is still the most comprehensive book available about the nature of the island group (including Porto Santo and the Desertas).
Like any general natural history book, it provides a lot of background information, and covers a lot of things adequately, but not at a specialist level. Botanists will need a wild flower guide (if you find a comprehensive one, please let me know!), birders will need a bird guide, etc.
By 2015, we found a few things were out of date – the botanical garden at Sao Vicente has long since disappeared, for example, however the cave grotto (lava tubes) is worth a visit for the audio-visual shows at the new interpretation centre.
This book is available in English, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese – and a few idiosyncrasies of translation do show up in the text. Nevertheless it a very useful guide.
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