Many trees would die from such abuse.
Someone has purchased a couple of acres near a small river a few miles from our home. They are building a beautiful new home in a bend of the road.
In preparation for construction, they hired someone to bulldoze most of the trees and level the site. A few large trees, mostly sycamores (Platinus occidentalis), were left standing. I confess a degree of morbid curiosity about whether the trees will survive.
Fortunately, sycamores tolerate soil compaction, because I am sure that soil was quite compacted after the bulldozer drove back and forth, again and again.
When the soil is compacted, water, air, and nutrients cannot move freely. As a result, the tree may become stunted or weakened, and it may slowly die over a period of years.
I wonder how much of the root system of those trees was destroyed during the bulldozing. With all trees, the roots that are responsible for taking up nutrients and water are located near the surface of the soil and extend well beyond the tree's canopy.
Sycamores have a particularly shallow root system. In my experience, they often have very large roots radiating from the trunk at soil surface. If large roots have been broken, the trees may begin to lean or they may even fall down in a strong wind.
Look how the vehicles and equipment are parked right under the trees near the house (top photo). Construction materials are piled there as well. All these things are totally against the rules when you want to preserve a tree on a construction site. And their new road runs right over the roots of the two big sycamores they saved on one end of the property (photo below.)
I wish the property owners had taken some measures to protect the trees they decided to save. They could have fenced out the critical root area around those trees and protected their most important roots.
Rather than selecting individual trees and bulldozing the rest, the owners could have chosen clumps of trees to preserve. The few trees they saved are singled out now after a lifetime among comrades. They are unaccustomed to standing alone, and they will be more vulnerable to wind and weather distress than they were in the group.
In areas around the house where they couldn't avoid traffic, the owners could have decreased the likelihood of root damage by applying a thick (6 to 8 inch) temporary mulch under the trees. (Obviously, the mulch would have been most effective if they had not bulldozed the site already.)
Ask me in ten years, and I'll tell you how many of the trees are still alive. I'm not placing any bets, one way or the other. I think sycamores stand a better chance of living through this than many other tree species would. They're tough, but they've taken a good bit of abuse here.
(Some may know the sycamore by other names, such as American planetree, buttonwood, or button-ball. )