Todays Diario carries this awful photo of Jardim Orquídea, on the southern edge of the Botanical Gardens, where a collection of 50,000 fully-grown orchids was destroyed on Tuesday night. The private collection dates back 110 years and had been maintained over four generations of the Pregetter family. Jardim Orquídea was considered to be one of the largest private collections in the world, with many of the specimens extinct elsewhere. Only 2000 plants are thought to recoverable and with a normal growing cycle of up to 20 years the future of the gardens remains uncertain.
Richard Turner, part of the team behind the excellent “Madeira in a Nutshell” guidebook has set up a crowd-funding appeal aiming to raise as much as €50,000 to assist Jardim Orquídea. An ambitious target, but as he says, it’s only €1 per orchid.
Tribute to fire-fighters
The “homage” to the fire-fighters last night in Funchal was well attended and the procession through the city centre took in many of the headquarters of the rescue and security services that have done such an incredible job over the last five days – GNR, PSP, BVM, Municipal Fire-fighters, Red Cross and Army. The bombeiros are continuing to monitor specific areas where the fires are re-igniting on a small scale – this was happening in a few areas yesterday, including the ecological park. None of these are considered serious.
Concern must be growing among the authorities over what might happen if the region was to experience a period of heavy rain. With the hillsides on the south coast being unstable and missing a lot of the usual vegetation, the possibility of an almost instant run-off could easily result in floods and landslides. Ironically, we do need some rain to let recovery begin. Another question that is being raised, concerns the amount of privately owned land which is not maintained, becomes overgrown, and provides “fodder” when fires break out.
One of the strange aspects of reporting on this story over the last few days is how quickly interest has dissipated in the fires that have ravaged the island, and how little news coverage there has been on the likes of the BBC throughout the events of the last few days. Maybe the media at the moment is too focussed on the Olympics? Nevertheless, interest has taken the total number of comments recorded on the blog past 15,000 and the total number of page views to over 3,600,000 over the last seven years, despite a meltdown due to demand as the story first unfolded last week.