The Madeira Natural Park Service Information Centre
The Madeira Natural Park Service Information Centre (CISPNM), established in 1996, is located in São Gonçalo, more precisely, in the Dragoeiros das Neves Nucleus Centre.
This area was acquired by the Regional Government in order to safeguard a group of Dragon-trees that have lived there for centuries.
The Dragon-tree (Dracaena draco) is a perennial plant of slow growth, which can reach about 20 m in height, with an umbel shaped canopy. It grows naturally in the Macaronesia habitat and was once abundant in Porto Santo, but it is now extinct. In Madeira it is rare to find it in its natural state; instead, it is very much used for ornamental purposes. In the past it was largely exploited for its reddish sap “dragon blood”, which was used as domestic medicine, as a dyeing product and as varnish. This varnish was very much rated in Europe for the finishing of violins.
It is highly probable that the existent nucleus in the CISPNM was developed from a few nurseries that existed in this area.
Surrounding these Dragon-trees, there is a garden with coastal vegetation. This garden also displays some species of Laurissilva, high altitude plants, native and endemic, a total of about 40 species. Visitors can take pleasure in walking along a narrow path that runs through the garden to appreciate these plants.
The CISPNM was established to promote and develop several activities aimed mainly at schools and other institutions, in order to inform and raise awareness for the environment and thus promote the protected areas under Madeira Natural Park Service (SPNM), as well as to develop projects of conservation. It is from this Centre that environmental education activities run by the SPNM and supervised by their technicians take place throughout the year.