Forest is an important natural resource. It is most important natural habitat for wild life. It is also utilized by farmers for commercial and recreational purposes. Many herbivores find shelter and carnivores their prey in the forest. Besides this, forest plays most important role from commercial point of view. Forest based cottage industries, such as bee-keeping, bamboo mat and basket making provides small-scale industry to the tribal people. Sal is a most important source for timber industries. It also provides raw materials for pulp and plywood industry.
Green plants of the forest are food-producing organisms and are primary producers of the 'food chain'. These foods are stored in the form of fruits, nuts, seeds, nectar and wood. Therefore, forest serves as an energy reservoir, trapping energy from sunlight and storing it in the form of a biochemical product.
Forest plays a most important role in keeping the atmospheric balance by consuming CO2 and releasing O2, the latter which is essential for animal life. So removal of plants and trees would disturb the composition of natural air. An acre of forest absorbs four tonnes of carbonic acid gas and recycles eight tonnes of oxygen into environment.
If a forest is cut down, energy stored in the wood is lost and also most of the nutrients of the system are lost. Such deforestation leaves a poor soil which can support agriculture for only a short time, because the harvesting of the first few crops removes the remaining nutrients and renders it useless. Deforestation causes soil erosion.
The reduction of forests later affects rainfall and thereby restricts the availability of a most important natural resource, the rain water. In natural forests, the tree roots bind the soil and about 90 per cent of the water falling on the forests is retained either in humus or in the plant tissue. The forest thus acts as a soaking device and plays a vital role in the hydrological cycle. It has been estimated that in India 60,000 million tonnes of top soil is carried away annually by rain water from deforested area.
Now-a-days the tendency of deforestation is increasing day by day. Man is cutting forest to get temporary benefits but there is a tremendous loss in due course of time.