What is an Ecological Footprint?

August 2, 2016

The Ecological Footprint is an illustration that is used to measure a number of resources needed for consumption and to absorb waste. It can be measured not only individually, but also by cities, businesses, or countries. The Ecological Footprint has proven useful for governments and organizations in measuring and managing resources sustainably by using this illustration as a way to track the progress and regress of resources while also setting targets and policies for sustainability.

The ecological footprint was devised by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia. The use of calculating the ecological footprint shows how much we consume from the Earth and how long it will take to recover. Since the 1970s, humanity has begun to outstrip the resources found on Earth. To better understand how much pressure is being exerted on the Earth’s resources, scientists will often show the value in the number of years for recovery or in the number of earths. Currently, it takes one year and six months for the Earth to recover, or 1.5 Earths.

Other Sources

Global Footprint Network. “Footprint Basics.” Global Footprint Network. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/footprint_basics_overview/. Accessed August 3, 2016.

World Wildlife Federation. “Ecological Footprint.” World Wildlife Federation. http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/webfieldtrips/ecological_balance/eco_footprint/. Accessed August 3, 2016.