Rapa Nui– better known as Easter Island– is beautiful, awe-inspiring, and mysterious. It is also a microcosm of global ecological fragility. Known throughout the world for its 887 monumental statues, much of Easter Island’s charm and beauty lay shrouded in its designation as the most remote inhabited island in the world.
In recent times, Easter Island has succumbed to the environmental effects of over exploitation. Nothing is quite as humbling and arresting as understanding the plight of the indigenous peoples. They’ve endured famines, civil war, colonialism, slave raids, and the steady decline of their population. Yet these proud people endure.
A particularly pressing issue facing the islandba problem that has actually plagued it for centuriesbis the dearth of trees. There are many theories as to why trees are so sparse there. They include deforestation and climatic effects of the Little Ice Age. No one can be certain about the cause, but results remain regardless of cause. Changes in the Island’s ecosystem further damaged and eventually destroyed the smaller trees inhabiting the Island. But there is hope.
I was struck by this particular letter regarding a project dedicated to preserving and strengthening the ecological landscape of the island. Here is the letter, written by Tom Williams, chairman of the SOIL Fund:
In 2010, the SOIL Fund provided funding for a project on Easter Island. With the SOIL Fund’s help, the project was able to get off to a great start through the installation of test plots. These test plots helped to develop a method to establish an economically beneficial tree species on the island while controlling erosion and increasing infiltration. For those who saw Dr. Pablo Garcia-Chevisich’s presentation on this project at Environmental Connection 2011 in Orlando, FL, you may know that this effort is intended to help Easter Island’s struggling economy in a way that will also reduce the devastating erosion that is presently affecting the island.
Unfortunately, a winter grassland fire destroyed much of the plantings from last year. The SOIL Fund is planning to assist in replanting the trees. Due to the amount of work needed and very limited funds, we need your help. We are asking anyone interested in assisting in this process at their own expense and looking for the satisfaction of an eco-vacation to beautiful Easter Island, to please contact us as soon as possible. If you are interested or have specific questions, please contact me atB +1 303-229-6062 or via e-mail atB firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support of IECA and the SOIL Fund!
Tom Williams, MA, CPESC
SOIL Fund Chair
Russ Adsit discusses the SOIL Fund: