Slow Knowledge

ecological footprint

The term was coined by Canadian ecologists William E. Rees and Mathis Wackernagel in 1995. Ecological footprint measures how much fertile land is needed to support the level of consumption of an individual, an area or a country, and to absorb its waste. The ecological footprint shows the rate of humanity’s natural resource use, and also how many additional individuals our planet may adequately provide for. The units for ecological footprint are global hectares. Due to imprecise calculations, the model is being continuously revised, including more and more aspects in the process. The ecological footprint rate is rather approximate, symbolic so to say – its aim being an incentive to a more sustainable lifestyle and the change of consumption habits. According to the latest data, the average ecological footprint of Hungary is 3.7 hectares, while globally there are only 1.8 hectares of biologically productive land and sea area available per person. Currently the United States of America, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates have the highest ecological footprints of approx. 9 hectares, and the lowest number of 0.5 belongs to Mozambique, Nepal and Bangladesh.