School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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What is an ecological footprint?

An ecological footprint is how much land and water area a human population uses to provide all it takes from nature. This includes the areas for producing the resource it consumes, the space for accommodating its buildings and roads, and the ecosystems for absorbing its waste emissions such as carbon dioxide. By measuring the Footprint of a population—an individual, city, business, nation, or all of humanity—we can assess our pressure on the planet, which helps us manage our ecological assets more wisely and take personal and collective action in support of a world where humanity lives within the Earth’s bounds.

Learn more about ecological footprints and find your ecological footprint at the Global Footprint Network

Grade Level: 12

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Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.