Soil age and denudation rates were studied in extremely species-rich steppe ecosystems, Romania. The soils started to form prior to the Last Glacial Maximum. The average, long-term erosion rates varied between 0.18 and 0.63 t ha-1 yr-1. During the last few decades, the erosion rates increased by a factor of 5–10. Large differences are caused by changes in human management of the soils. The biodiversity-rich forest-steppe landscapes are now under threat.