Trees play a large variety of vital roles in the Earth's ecosystem, weather patterns, soil richness and air quality. The destruction of trees has been occurring for a long period of time for a variety of reasons--such as the need for lumber and the need for farmland. However, a lack of awareness of the importance of trees has led to much more disastrous consequences than the advantages of cutting them down.
Trees improve air quality for humans and other animals by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Trees play a role in controlling rainfall and also provide gases that restore the atmosphere. The evaporation of water creates clouds that block out the sun and lower Earth's temperatures. Trees also help prevent erosion, landslides and infertile soil.
As many individuals in poverty are displaced by their governments and as third-world countries continue to overpopulate, the poor are forced to resort to slash and burn farming in order to clear away forests and create land that is suitable for farming. The process of slash and burn farming leads to the creation of soil that is no longer fertile and suitable for farming. Slash and burn farming is also used as a method of removing parasites, as chemicals that can kill the parasites often contaminate the land and water. Areas that seem to be very lush, such as rain forests, often have very poor soil and the majority of the nutrients are actually found within the plants themselves. Through the process of slash and burn farming, much of the nutrients are lost and the farmers have to burn more trees to continue farming.
Trees are often cut down in order to create land for cattle grazing. The need for more land for cattle is driven by international fast food chains that rely heavily on beef. The cattle often overgraze the land, stripping the land of its grass and destroying ecosystems. When the land no longer has enough grass the graze, farmers are often driven to cut down more trees to make room for more grazing.
Deforestation leads to major flooding problems, since a much greater amount of the water arrives at the ground instead of being absorbed by the trees and other plants. Flooding can wash away top soil and can be a danger to human life.
The loss of trees contributes to climate change as more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, trapping carbon dioxide that can contribute to accelerating global warming. This climate change can have a devastating effect on weather patterns and sea levels.
Trees act as windbreakers. People living in windy areas might experience even greater problems with wind.