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Abstract

Since the first Polynesian settlers set foot on Rapa Nui, probably between AD 300 and AD 600, cultivation of plants and the development and adaptation of agriculture in the new environment became the key factor for a growing community and a flourishing culture. The biotic resources the people found on Rapa Nui were relatively poor due to the lack of diversity of edible and usable plants and animals, a consequence of its isolation in the Pacific Ocean. The people depended on the supplies they carried with them in their canoes as they did for hundreds of years while exploring the solitary Polynesian islands. And they depended of course on the abiotic resources as these set the limits for cultivation of plants and fruits. Key factors in this point of view were the availability of water and the fertility of the soils for growing plants, suitable climatic factor for the species cultivated, geomorphologic conditions that would allow farming and the availability of area for land use in relation to the population size.

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