Ecological Footprint | WWF
	© Alffoto

Ecological Footprint

For more than 40 years, humanity’s demand on nature has exceeded what our planet can replenish. We would need the regenerative capacity of 1.6 Earths to provide the natural resources and ecological services we currently use.
This is possible only in the short term. Only for a brief period can we cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than the oceans can replenish, or emit more carbon into the atmosphere than the forests and oceans can absorb. The consequences of “overshoot” are already clear: habitat and species loss, and accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere.

The Ecological Footprint adds up all the ecological services people demand that compete for space. It includes the biologically productive area (or biocapacity) needed for crops, grazing land, built-up areas, fishing grounds and forest products. It also includes the area of forest needed to absorb carbon dioxide emissions that cannot be absorbed by the ocean. Carbon from burning fossil fuels has been the dominant component of humanity’s Ecological Footprint for more than half a century and its share continues to grow.

Both biocapacity and Ecological Footprint are expressed in a common unit called a global hectare (gha). In 2012, the Earth’s total biocapacity was 12.2 billion gha, or 1.7 gha per person, while humanity’s Ecological Footprint was 20.1 billion gha, or 2.8 gha per person. The Ecological Footprint is unequally distributed, with residents of high-income countries placing a disproportionate pressure on nature as they use more than their fair share of the Earth’s resources. At the other end of the scale, people in some of the world’s lowest-income countries struggle to meet basic needs.

For more information : Global Footprint Network