This article discusses some of the environmental problems caused by soil erosion and suspended sediment transfer in a range of environments across the world The principal controls on water erosion and global patterns of sediment yield are briefly outlined and a series of examples are used to highlight the nature of fine sediment transfer and storage in river catchments. Land use change may trigger large increases in soil erosion and declines in soil fertility. Major economic losses may follow as downstream pollution and sedimentation problems intensify. Some of these major on-site and off-site soil loss problems are a matter of worldwide concern. Suspended sediment concentration is an important water quality parameter and good quality data on suspended sediment fluxes are vital for tbe sustainable management of river catchments.