“The overall picture for Easter is the most extreme example of forest destruction in the Pacific, and among the most extreme in the world: the whole forest gone, and all of its tree species extinct.” (Diamond).
Easter Island is recognized by ecologists as a distinct ecoregion, called the Rapa Nui subtropical broadleaf forests having relatively little rainfall contributed to eventual deforestation. The original subtropical moist broadleaf forests are now gone, but paleobotanical studies of fossil pollen and tree indicate that the island was formerly forested, with a range of trees, shrubs, ferns, and grasses.
The island once possessed a forest of palms and it has generally been thought that native Easter Islanders deforested the island in the process of erecting their statues. A large palm, related to the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis) was one of the dominant trees, as was the toromiro tree (Sophora toromiro). The palm is now extinct, and the toromiro is extinct in the wild, and the island is presently covered almost entirely in grassland.
A group of scientists are making efforts in order to reintroduce the toromiro to Easter Island. An interesting fact is the presence of the bulrush nga’atu which is also found in the Andes (where it is known as totora); there are indications that nga’atu was not present before the 1300s-1500s.
Before the arrival of humans, Easter Island had vast seabird colonies, no longer found on the main island, and several species of landbirds, which have become extinct.