Within the EU, the Macaronesian Region consists of three archipelagos: the Azores, Madeira (both belonging to Portugal) and the Canaries (Spain). All are of volcanic origin and this fact is reflected everywhere in the landscape. Large calderas, jagged mountains and vertiginous cliffs contrast sharply with wide valleys and sheltered bays.
These alternating landscapes, combined with the gentle climate, create an ideal environment for a particularly rich array of species and habitats, many of which are endemic. Despite representing only 0.2% of the EU territory, the Macaronesian Region hosts over a quarter of the plant species listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive.
The surrounding seas are equally abundant in wildlife. Many marine animals, from whales to seabirds, seek shelter and food in the deep inshore waters and nutrientrich upwellings emerging from the sea floor.