Soil erosion can be caused by wind and water, as the formation of canyons over the millenia have amptly demonstrated. The soil erosion caused by human interaction with the environment, however, has proven particularly damaging to modern civilizations.
People cause soil erosion mostly through deforestation of heavily wooded regions, for example, the jungles and teak forests of Southeast Asia. Soil protected from the natural elements for thousands of years is routinely eroded when suddently exposed to those elements following the destruction of forests and jungles by companies exploiting wood for home and furniture construction, paper products, and so on. The result is severe damage and loss of lives when subsequent storms cause massive mud slides that destroy villages and settlements.
Soil erosion is also caused by careless farm practices. In developed countries with large agricultural sectors like the United States and France, soil erosion has been studied and addressed with the introduction of farming practices that allow tilled and planted fields to regenerate. In less developed regions of the world, for example, in Africa and South Asia, such practices are either unknown or deemed too costly for the subsistence agricultural farms that provide food for the country. Consequently, soil previously used for farming becomes barren; farmers then clear more forest for virgin land, and the cycle repeats itself.