Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT is a metaphor for ecological impact, regardless of where that impact occurs. The ecological footprint is also an ecological accounting tool, a measure of the environmental impact of consumption and subsequent waste discharge. Consumption items are divided into food, shelter, transportation, and consumer goods and services. The consumption impact is measured by converting impact variables into the single unit of land, measured in hectares or acres. This includes land appropriated by fossil energy use, the built environment, gardens, cropland, pasture, managed forest, and land of limited availability, including untouched forests and non-productive areas, such as deserts and icecaps. The major strength of the ecological footprint as a way of measuring the sustainability of cities is that it enables a picture of the flow of materials into and out of the city. Bill Rees and his students, particularly Mathis Wackernagel, developed the concept of Ecological Footprints (EFs) as ...