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What is the ecological footprint?

&r=1" class="c1"> As a deficit, when the ecological fooprint (EF) exceeds the available biocapacity. As a ecological reserve when the EF does not exceed the available biocapacity.

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By comparing the results of EF calculations with the biocapacity assessment, there are two main interpretations that can me made.

  • If the nation, individual or activity assessed has an EF that exceeds the biocapacity available for all its materials consumption and wastes absorbance, then we are in the presence of an ecological deficit and the individual assessed is called an ecological debtor. The possibility of ecological deficits has two main explanations: either biocapacity was imported from elsewhere, or the domestic ecological assets were completely depleted (its regenerative capacity was irreversibly corrupted).

    A global ecological deficit, however, cannot be offset through trade and inevitably leads to depletion of ecological assets and/or accumulation of wastes.

    The situation where EF exceeds available biocapacity is known as overshoot.

  • When the population studied shows an EF smaller than their available biocapacity, then we run into an ecological reserve. An ecological reserve does not mean that the ecological assets are not being used; they might be occupied by others’ ecological debts.
For most industrialized countries, the EF reflects mostly the carbon uptake land, since fossil fuel consumption is the major contributor for EF total. In such cases the EF will be approximately equal to the Carbon Footprint.