Mountain soils are very sensitive to degradation processes such as water erosion, loss of chemical and physical quality, and desertification. Degradation processes are favoured by a combination of characteristics such as slow soil formation and development rates, harsh climate, steep topography and complex morphology, limited contents of organic matter and nutrients.
In addition, mountain soils can be strongly affected by climate change, and in particular by the changes in the snow/rainfall patterns, and the increased frequency of extreme events, that may result in severe degradation processes (e.g. soil erosion due to extreme rainfall events and snow movements, soil profile truncation, nutrient loss). Moreover, negative impacts of land use changes (e.g. abandonment of marginal agricultural areas or intensification of land use in more favourable sites) may affect both local and downstream populations.