How Deforestation Caused Easter Islandís Society to Collapse
2012-06-08 0:00

By Lisa Hossler | EnvironmentalGraffiti.com


When the Polynesians first settled Easter Island as late as 1200 C.E., it was a sub-tropical piece of land covered with millions of palm trees. Five hundred years later, when the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen came upon the island, there were no trees over 10 feet tall. The landscape was instead dominated by tall stone heads, known as Moai. Scattered across the island, the largest of these were up to 65 feet tall and weighed around 270 tons. Yet the island people the European arrivals found were emaciated and lacked an organized society. How could these people have constructed and transported such large objects?

The first setters on Easter Island found an island full of nesting seabirds and land birds. The soil, although low in nutrients, was good for growing the yams, sweet potatoes and other crops the people had brought with them. But it was the trees that were perhaps the most valuable resource for their society. The trees supplied fruit for the birds Ė both of which the humans ate Ė plus bark, used as a material for their clothing, and thatch for their roofs. The people also used the trees for building canoes and harpoons, which in turn helped them to hunt porpoises, their main source of food. Whatís more, the trees supplied log rollers, sleds or levers, and rope made from fibers, all of which the islanders used to move and erect the hundreds of Moai heads for which Easter Island is now famous.

As well as bringing crops to cultivate, the early settlers developed systems of government and religion on Easter Island. They thrived for several centuries, yet their need for trees outpaced the ability of the forest to renew itself (with rats eating the treesí seeds another possible contributing factor to the deforestation). Without the large palm trees, the islanders were unable to build their canoes and so eventually lost their main source of food. This forced them to focus their diet more on mollusks and birds, the latter of which soon also disappeared. With the land birds extinct and migratory bird numbers severely reduced, gone were the treesí means of dispersing pollen and seeds.

[...]


Read the full article at: environmentalgraffiti.com




Related Articles
Easter Island archaeology project digs up islandís bodies
Easter Island Heads: Body excavation continues
The mystery of Easter Island endures amid debate


Latest News from our Front Page

Europe 2020
2015-05-27 4:13
YouTube Description: Europe is changing and not for the better. We can change this if we act now. Source: The European Guardian
Rome's Arch of Titus Now Represents a Jewish Triumph
2015-05-27 2:48
Though not on a par with the universally recognizable Colosseum, the Arch of Titus remains one of the most iconic relics from Rome's ancient imperial glory days. The grand arch is located just south-east of the Roman Forum (main center of ancient Rome). It was opened in 82 AD by the Roman Emperor Domitian, shortly after the death of ...
IQ, Psy Ops and the "Civilization" of the Scam
2015-05-27 2:27
Cognitive dissonance is the firewall that exists in most minds when confronted with a challenge to their basic beliefs about the world. As it is human nature to avoid admitting being in error or having been duped, for most humans the ego zealously flees the admission to oneself of significant error.Challenges to our worldviews or paradigms of belief are also ...
"Europe Could be Overrun with White South Africans"
2015-05-26 23:05
Edited by Red Ice Dear Madam Merkel: We want our brothers and sisters to come home! Hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans are pouring into Europe, stressing the economy and social services, causing insane rates of crime and threatening to crush society in its entirety. Arab Moslems also continue to pour in under the guise of "asylum‚ÄĚ and are continuing to threaten ...
Increasing Cosmic Rays
2015-05-26 23:35
Driving Force in Climate Changes, Volcanos and Earthquakes Back in 1996 Danish physicists suggested that cosmic rays, energetic particles from space, are important in the formation of clouds. Since then, experiments in Copenhagen and elsewhere have demonstrated that cosmic rays actually help small clusters of molecules to form. By firing a particle beam into a cloud chamber, physicists in Denmark and ...
More News »