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Trees are useful to man in three very important ways: they provide him with wood and other products ; they give him shade ; and they help to prevent drought and floods.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, man has not realised that the third of these services is the most important. In his eagerness to draw quick profit from the trees, he has cut them down in large numbers.
This doe not only mean that our sons and grand sons have fewer trees. The results are even more serious: for where there are trees their roots break the soil up - allowing the rain to sink in - and also bind the soil, thus preventing its being washed away easily; but where there are no trees, the rain falls on hard ground and flows away on the surface, causing floods and carrying with it the rich top-soil, in which crops grow so well. When all the topsoil is gone, nothing remains but worthless desert.
Even where a government realises the importance of a plentiful supply of trees, it is difficult for it to persuade the villager to see this. The villager wants wood to cook his food with; and he can earn money by making charcoal or selling wood to the townsman. He is usually too lazy or too careless to plant and look after new trees. So, unless the government has a good system of control, or can educate the people, the forests slowly disappear.
Two thousand years ago a rich and powerful country cut down its trees to build warships, with which to gain itself an empire but without its trees, its soil became hard and poor. When the empire fell to pieces, the country found itself faced with floods and starvation.


To provide with: fournir
shade: ombre
Drought: (noun derived from dry)
floods: inondations
To sink: s'infiltrer


1) According to the text, what is the importance of trees?
2) Can you find another importance?
3) Why is it difficult to have people preserve trees?
4) What may happen if there are not many trees in a country?
5) For you, what can be done to preserve the environment? (8 to 10 lines)
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