Ecological Foot print & Biocapacity

Idea of ecological Footprint was given by William Rees in 1992. It is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems and its ecological capacity to regenerate the resources consumed by Human. There are two closely related concepts.

  1. Humanity’s Ecological Footprint
  2. Earth’s biocapacity

Ecological Foot print represents the impact that entity (nation/ town/ individual/ entire world) made on the Earth that year by consuming a set amount of the Earth’s resources.

So, the over-consumption of the Earth’s natural resources is unsustainable as the Earth’s biocapacity will eventually collapse should this behavior continue.

In other words, Ecological Footprint is the measure of how much biologically productive land and water an individual, population or activity requires to produce all the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates using prevailing technology and resource management practices.

The Ecological Footprint is measured in global hectares. Because trade is global, an individual or country’s Footprint includes land or sea from all over the world.

What is a Global Hectare?

Global hectare is used to measure the ecological foot print as well as biocapacity of entire Earth. When we understand both the terms, we can arrive at ecological deficit.

  • In terms of Ecological Footprint,One global hectare refers to average productive land and water an individual, population or entity requires producing all the resources it consumes.
  • When we say that world-average ecological footprint in 2007 was 2.7 global hectares per person (18.0 billion in total), this means that this was theper person productive land and water required for producing all the resources he / she consumed.

In terms of Biocapacity, the Global Hectare refers to average biocapacity of any biologically productive areas on the planet. When we say, that the world-average biocapacity in 2007 was 1.8 global hectares per person (12 billion in total), this means that it is the amount of biologically productive land and water available per person on the planet.

Impact of Population on Biocapacity

In 2005 there were 13.4 billion hectares of biologically productive land and water available and 6.5 billion people on the planet. This is an average of 2.1 global hectares per person. Since the world’s population is growing rapidly, this number is rapidly decreasing. In 2008, it became 1.8 Global Hectare Per person. In 2011, it may be even lesser than that.

Thumb rule: Increasing population leads to decrease in the amount of biologically productive land and water available per person on the planet.

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