…measures how much land and water area a human population requires to produce the resource it consumes and to absorb its wastes, using prevailing technology. Biologically productive land and sea includes area that
1) supports human demand for food, fiber, timber, energy and space for infrastructure and 2) absorbs the waste products from the human economy. Biologically productive areas include cropland, forest and fishing grounds, and do not include deserts, glaciers and the open ocean. Current Ecological Footprint Standards (www.footprintstandards.org) use global hectares as a measurement unit – which makes data and results globally comparable. Since the 1970s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot with annual demand on resources exceeding what Earth can regenerate each year. It now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. . By measuring the Footprint of a population—an individual, city, business, nation, or all of humanity—we can assess our pressure on the planet, which helps us manage our ecological assets more wisely and take personal and collective action in support of a world where humanity lives within the Earth’s bounds. Conceived in 1990 by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees at the University of British Columbia, the Ecological Footprint is now in wide use by scientists, businesses, governments, agencies, individuals, and institutions working to monitor ecological resource use and advance sustainable development.
National governments using the Footprint are able to:
1. Assess the value of their country’s ecological assets 2. Monitor and manage their assets
3. Identify the risks associated with ecological deficits 4. Set policy that is informed by ecological reality and makes safeguarding resources a top priority 5. Measure progress toward their goals
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