Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: May 04, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412973816 | Print ISBN: 9781412996822 | Online ISBN: 9781412973816| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kenneth S. White
The ecological footprint is a measure of the physical area required to provide the resources consumed by an individual, city, or nation. It is a measure of sustainability based on the recognition that when resources are consumed faster than they are produced, the resource is eventually depleted. Both populations and the economies supporting them depend on materials and services provided by nature, and accounting for resource use is one of the key elements in developing sustainable economies. Without an effective metric, these assets and their contributions to society cannot be systematically assessed or included in strategic planning. The methodology to calculate an ecological footprint focuses specifically on the human use of renewable natural resources in relation to the rate at which such resources are regenerated by the world's ecosystems—what nature provides and how much we use. Because these resources are drawn from the productive areas of the planet's surface, the ...