Surefoot associate Euri Vidal is working with Abrazo House on a project entitled “Biodiversity Outdoor Learning.” On a recent visit to the Laurisilva forest on the island of Madeira, the eerie forest and the ancient trees showed a picture of the resilience of nature, a resilience in which people may also find inspiration.
Laurisilva typifies a previously widespread laurel forest, a gem of the past, which covered much of Southern Europe 15-40 million years ago. The cover in Madeira is the largest surviving area of laurel forest, and it is believed to be 90% primary forest. The forest contains a unique ecosystem of plants and animals, including many endemic species such as the Madeiran long-toed pigeon, and it is for this reason that the forest is a UNESCO protected site. Not only does the forest have a unique biodiversity value, it is also visually compelling. Many of the trees contort, twist, and grow in inexplicable ways and have stood there for thousands of years.
Winds in Madeira are notorious to the extent that pilots need a special training to land on this rocky, mostly solitary island that is seven hundred miles off the coast of Portugal and that rises almost 6,000 feet into the sky. Looking at the trees in this eerie landscape, one can see how the wind has tried to uproot the trees, push them down, and make sure they don’t grow much, possibly for hundreds of years. But you can hear them whisper “This is not over yet.” The trees have managed to withstand the challenge, their roots stubbornly stuck in the ground. Some trees grow horizontally to better cope with the gusts. Or roots have grown wide and deep in case some parts of the root system became weak and died away. You almost see the trees smirking, laughing at the elements, telling the wind, “Come and get me. If you can…” I can’t think of a better way to think of resilience. Determination wins all. When hardship comes your way, be a laurisilva tree.
Please see the work Surefoot is currently doing with resilience on Resilience Workshops and Breakthrough for Resilience.
Here’s a collection of some of our articles which have been in our newsletters or published elsewhere.