Landforms are a component of the Ecological Land Units (ELUs), used in TNC's ecoregional planning processes.

Stanley Rowe called landform "the anchor and control of terrestrial ecosystems." It breaks up broad landscapes into local topographic units, and in doing so provides for meso- and microclimatic expression of broader climatic character. It is largely responsible for local variation in solar radiation, soil development, moisture availability, and susceptibility to wind and other disturbance. As one of the five "genetic influences" in the process of soil formation, it is tightly tied to rates of erosion and deposition, and therefore to soil depth, texture, and nutrient availability. These are, with moisture, the primary edaphic controllers of plant productivity and species distributions. If the other four influences on soil formation (climate, time, parent material, and biota) are constant over a given space, it is variation in landform that drives variation in the distribution and composition of natural communities.