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Ecological footprint

(Huella ecológica)

Huella humana gigante en medio de los árboles de un bosque.
An ecological footprint is an indicator of the environmental impact that occurs when a certain population demands the common natural assets that it requires to produce what it consumes. This indicator measures the surface area that is necessary to produce these resources and absorb the impacts, the greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and the waste of said population.

The ecological footprint measures six categories: cropland, grazing land, fishing grounds, built-up land, forest area, and carbon demand on land.

This indicator is related to the planetary boundaries and with biocapacity or the earth’s biological capacity to regenerate its resources and absorb pollution. Biocapacity and ecological footprint are both expressed using the same unit: global hectare (gha).

The ecological footprint can be measured for a person, community, country, or region. It is also possible to establish the relation with the biocapacity and the planetary boundaries to determine the sustainability of a certain population or individual. When the ecological footprint surpasses the biocapacity, this leads to an ecological deficit.

The term ecological footprint is used often because of its significant awareness-raising component. In some contexts, environmental footprint is used as a synonym, however, they do not refer to the same thing. Ecological footprint should not be confused with water footprint or with carbon footprint.

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