In an attempt to safeguard the island’s natural heritage, the Madeira Natural Park was created in 1982, being classified as a Biogenetic Reserve. Here you will find flora and fauna that are unique in world terms. Occupying roughly two thirds of the territory, this area contains both full and partial nature reserves, protected landscapes and recreational areas.
The Ilhas Desertas Nature Reserve represents the last Atlantic refuge of the Mediterranean monk seal (sea lion), this being the main reason behind its creation.
In the far south of the territory, the Ilhas Selvagens Nature Reserve is one of Portugal’s oldest nature reserves.
In view of the exceptional conditions that these islands provide for the nesting of sea birds, they are considered to be an "ornithological sanctuary".
The Garajau Partial Nature Reserve is the only exclusively marine reserve in Portugal.
Amongst the fauna to be observed here are some large-sized fish, such as the black grouper. The reserve is considered to be one of the world’s major tourist attractions for amateur divers and an area of great scientific, recreational and tourist interest.
The Rocha do Navio Nature Reserve in Santana includes a stretch of sea, a potential habitat for the Mediterranean monk seal (sea lion), and a small island, where some plants can be observed that only grow on the natural Macaronesian cliffs.
In the far eastern corner of Madeira is the Ponta de São Lourenço Nature Reserve, which has its own particular fauna and flora, as well as an observation post providing support for Environmental Education