The key laboratory is a main unit in environmental discipline of the IMHE. Its missing is to explore the environment variation processes and ecological control mechanics of water-soil-nutrient on hill slope. The studies focus on three key scientific problems related mountain environment evolution: soil erosion and water-soil keeping mechanics under the impacts of multi-factors in southwestern China; the biogeochemical processes of the slope cultivated land in upper Yangtze valley; the natural evolution forest ecosystem and its eco-hydrological effects in typical mountain region of southwestern China.

The key laboratory consists of four divisions: mountain hydrology and ecology; water-soil conservation; soil and environment; Tibet eco-environment & development. Three field observatories are included in this laboratory: Gongga mountain alpine ecosystem station, Yanting purple soil agro-ecosystem station, and Zhongxian three-gorge reservoir environment station.