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What is the ecological footprint?

&r=1" class="c1"> The ecological footprint is calculated considering all the biological materials consumed and biological wastes, generated by a nation, a company or a person during a given year, corresponding to a value of productive area represented in hectares.

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Behind an EF calculation there are six fundamental assumptions: 1) the resources consumed and the wastes generated can be tracked; 2) these resources and waste flows can be measured in terms of the biologically productive area necessary to maintain flows; 3) different types of areas can be converted into global hectares; 4) global hectares can be added up to obtain an aggregate indicator of EF or biocapacity; 5) human demand can be directly compared to biocapacity, when both are expressed in global hectares; 6) area demanded can exceed area supplied if ecosystemís demand exceeds its regenerative capacity.

The EF is calculated by considering all of the biological materials consumed, and all of the biological wastes generated, by that person, a nation or activity in a given year. These materials and wastes demand ecologically productive areas, and the corresponding total of biological productive areas, should be accounted. Then, all of these materials and wastes are individually translated into an equivalent number of global hectares. The sum of the global hectares needed to support the resource consumption and waste generation of the nation, person or activity, gives its total Ecological Footprint.

For calculating Ecological Footprints, two different approaches can be followed, depending on the type of data available: component-based and compound footprinting.