What probably happened was that human settlers deforested the island, cutting down its palm trees for agriculture and burning wood for fuel. Transporting the giant heads (maoi) that the island is famous for required cutting down trees to use as sleds or rollers. With the collapse of the ecosystem came the collapse of human society. Soil eroded and the islanders not longer had the wood to build fishing boats. Starvation caused political unrest and the rise of a militant “birdman” cult.
Scientists are still piecing together exactly what happened. Recently, archaeologist Terry Hunt found evidence of rats on the island. A large number of the palm seeds he excavated were gnawed by rats, suggesting that rats interfered with the palm’s reproduction and contributed to its demise.
Some of Easter Island’s famous maoi statues
The environmental collapse of easter island was due to the high dependence of human societies on their environment. Extensive agricultural production led to deforestation of the island. Check the link for more information.
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