One of the most remote places in the world, Easter Island, is a bright example of a huge ecosystem disaster.

The island nowadays is completely deforested but was largely forested before humans settled it.
About 16 species of trees or woody shrubs existed, and at least one large palm! There were not any large or small mammals; however, there were insects and at least one species of lizard. Twenty-five seabird species, from sub-Arctic to tropical, and six types of land birds are archaeologically known. Of 111-140 species of fish inhabiting the marginal marine ecosystem, only 54 of them are near-shore or offshore species. Human impact on birds was significant, and caused the extinction of about half a dozen land birds and several dozen seabirds.


The moai represent ancestral chiefs who were believed to be descended directly from the gods and whose supernatural powers could be harnessed for the benefit of humanity. The massive stone figures were generally erected on temple platforms (ahu) along the coast, where they faced inland to keep watch over the local community.

Most were carved from soft volcanic tuff at Rano Raraku, an extinct volcanic crater that served as the primary statue quarry.