MNN Galleries

9 ancient man-made environmental catastrophes

By: Bryan Nelson on Nov. 25, 2009, 8:38 a.m.
Easter Island Ecological Collapse

Photo: HotuMatua/Flickr

3 of 11

Easter Island ecological collapse

Despite being one of the world's most remote islands, Easter Island was once home to a great civilization famous for constructing 887 giant stone statues all across the island, called moai (pictured). The civilization collapsed because of some of the worst environmental management in human history. Nearly every last tree standing was chopped down — likely used as tools to erect the moai — and all of the native tree species on the island were driven to extinction, destroying the soil and forever altering the ecosystem of the island.