In the olden days before the industrial revolution, human life was more closely related to nature. Let me take an example, closer to home, a simple indian village life.
Each house would have tulsi (basil) plant in their veranda, this would be worshipped daily, always reminding us that the trees were essential to our life. The largest tree in the village will be where everyone will gather to talk about day's events, this is where the panchayat will resolve any conflict. Even in children stories, grandma will always talk of the ghost on peepal tree and the children will be terrified crossing the tree even in during daylight.
Nature was integrated into our customs and traditions seamlessly so that we could appreciate and respect it. In today's world where we don't touch trees, where we don't have stories surrounding them, how do we expect the generations to care about deforestation? Stories have power, customs build sensitivity and we need to rely on them to create a society where we respect nature.