A few short segments from a documentary about Easter Islands (Rapa Nui) and how it become to be deforested and baron. The ancient Rapanui people did abuse their environment but they were also developing sustainable practices—innovating, experimenting, trying to adapt to a risky environment. They are generally held responsible for cutting down 6,000,000 trees in 300 years (though that is disputed), for example they were also developing new technological and agricultural practices along the way—such as fertilization techniques to restore the health of the soil and rock gardens to protect the plants. “Societies don’t just go into a tailspin and self-destruct,” says Stevenson, an archaeologist at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “They can and do adapt, and they emerge in new ways. The key is to put more back into the system than is taken out.”
This section of the documentary caught my attention due to this being the first time hearing about “lithic mulching” which is basically putting down rocks to help prevent soil erosion by creating micro climates with rocks, this helped create shade and deterred weeds too. Also not mentioned here is how these volcanic rocks would have eroded down remineralising the soil as they went. Other gardening practices show them growing fruit in caves entrances for shade from elements and building “manavai” stoned circle walls to protect plants from salt winds etc”
This next clip shown above speaks about how the practices of the inhabitants of the island were sustainable. They go on to show a possible indication of water conservation showing gulleys, dams, pavements and what effectively looks to me as water retention, encouraging the water to soak in to stop runoff in heavy rains. Well that or maybe they are “water gardens” or some kind of ancient method of “plumbing” water. They also show how as well as cuttings down tree’s they planted them too.
Several interesting gardening practices some of which today we maybe could call experimentations in “permaculture”.
Original Name: Easter Island Mysteries of a Lost World