What is the Ecological Footprint?
The Ecological Footprint is a resource accounting tool that measures how much biologically productive land and sea is used by a given population or activity, and compares this to how much land and sea is available. Productive land and sea areas support human demands for food, fiber, timber, energy, and space for infrastructure. These areas also absorb the waste products from the human economy. The Ecological Footprint measures the sum of these areas, wherever they physically occur on the planet. The Ecological Footprint is used widely as a management and communication tool by governments, businesses, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations.
What does the Ecological Footprint measure?
Ecological Footprint accounts answer a specific research question: how much of the biological capacity of the planet is demanded by a given human activity or population? To answer this question, the Ecological Footprint measures the amount of biologically productive land and water area an individual, a city, a country, a region, or all of humanity uses to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates with today’s technology and resource management practices. This demand on the biosphere can be compared to biocapacity, a measure of the amount of biologically productive land and water available for human use. Biologically productive land includes areas such as cropland, forest, and fishing grounds, and excludes deserts, glaciers, and the open ocean.