Earth without forests is a picture that most of the world could not conceive. Forests cover much of the planet's land area. They are extremely important to humans and the natural world. For humans, they have many aesthetic, recreational, economic, historical, cultural and religious values. Timber and other products of forests are important economically both locally and as exports. They provide employment for those who harvest the wood or products of the living forest. Herbalists, hunters and collectors of fungi, nuts, bamboo and berries are able to utilize such resources. Other non-wood forest products come in the form of medicinal compounds, dyes and fabrics. There are many people who are dependent on forestlands for their livelihoods. One-third of the world's people depend on wood for fuel as a significant energy source. Some indigenous peoples are completely dependent on forests. As well as providing a home for some people, the forest environment provides a popular setting for tourism, which includes hiking, camping, bird watching and other outdoor adventure or nature study activities.
A major condition of deforestation is poverty. Although poverty is not a cause of deforestation, it is a condition of life that the majority of people in this world must endure. While greed and power can be the motivations of some groups in society that deforest, survival and the desire to escape from poverty is what drives most people. Poverty is the socioeconomic environment that limits peoples' economic options, .
damages health, limits the formation of rural capital, reduces income generating opportunities, and limits institutional and infrastructure development. It is an underlying condition that facilitates deforestation. There is some evidence from the industrialized countries of the North that suggests as societies become more economically secure they reach a point where the economic development pressures that drive deforestation are replaced by a growing environmental concern and a greater appreciation of environmental values.