As humans, we don’t realize how much we affect the environment. Every day we make choices that impact the planet, but we often don’t think about the long-term effects of our actions.

The Ecological Footprint is a way of measuring the number of resources we use and waste, and it provides a way for us to see the consequences of our everyday choices.

The ecological footprint is the result of human activities on Earth measured in terms of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and assimilate waste produced, according to the most basic definition.

In a more technical sense, the ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems.

It compares the amount of biologically productive land and water an individual, population, or activity requires to the amount of land and water available within a geographical boundary.

The ecological footprint is usually expressed in terms of global hectares (gha).

One global hectare is the average productive area required to sustain one person consuming at the world average.

How Is An Ecological Footprint Determined?

The ecological footprint assesses humanity’s demand on the biosphere in terms of biologically productive land and sea required to provide the resources we consume and to absorb our waste.

The impact/demand that humans have on the environment is known as an ecological footprint.

Related: Is Carbon Footprint The Same As Ecological Footprint? Maybe?

How Is Ecological Footprint Measured?

The Ecological Footprint of a person is the sum of all people’s needs that compete for biologically productive space, such as cropland to grow potatoes or cotton, or forest to produce timber or sequester carbon dioxide emissions.

The calculation also includes grazing land for livestock, built-up land for cities and roads, productive marine area for fish stocks, and forested land to absorb carbon dioxide emissions.

The ecological footprint is usually expressed in terms of global hectares (gha). One global hectare is defined as the average biologically productive area required to sustain one person consuming at the world average.

The ecological footprint can also be expressed in terms of the amount of land required to sustain a population or an activity.

What Country Has The Largest Ecological Footprint?

It will come as no surprise that China and the United States have the largest ecological footprints, as they are also the two most populous countries in the world. With a population of almost 1.4 billion people.

China has an ecological footprint of 3.71 hectares per capita and a biocapacity of 0.92 people per capita in 2017. China’s total ecological footprint is 5.3 billion gha, the highest in the world.

The ecological footprint of the United States is 8.04 gha per capita, which is one of the largest in the world and far below its biocapacity of 3.45 hectares.

This results in a net ecological deficit of -1.49 billion hectares and a biocapacity reserve per capita of -4.59 gha in 2017.

What Are The Consequences Of An Ecological Footprint?

If we continue to use more resources than are available, it will eventually lead to environmental degradation and a decline in the quality of life for all people.

It is important to note that the ecological footprint is not just about the environment, but also about human well-being.

A large ecological footprint can lead to:

  • Deforestation
  • Habitat loss
  • Soil erosion
  • Climate change


Deforestation, in and of itself, causes climate change by releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that had been trapped in trees and soils.

Every year, deforestation in tropical countries emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide.

Habitat loss

Habitat loss is the destruction of an area where a particular species lives.

This can be caused by many different things, such as deforestation, pollution, and urbanization.

When habitat is lost, it can cause species to become endangered or even extinct.

Soil erosion

When soil is left exposed to strong winds, harsh rains, and flowing water, it erodes.

Human activities, particularly farming and land clearing, can make soil susceptible to erosion in some circumstances. This can result in a deterioration of the soil’s quality and productivity over time.

Climate change

Climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

These gases trap heat and cause the Earth’s average temperature to rise.

This can lead to drastic changes in weather patterns, which can impact the environment and human societies.

How Can We Reduce Our Ecological Footprint?

There are many ways we can reduce our ecological footprint, and it starts with making conscious choices about the way we live.

We can start by reducing our consumption of resources, recycling and composting more, driving less, and eating more sustainably.

We can also support businesses and organizations that are working to reduce their ecological footprint.


Is there a formula to calculate ecological footprint?

Yes, an ecological footprint calculation is required. EF = ΣTi/Yw x EQFi, where Ti is the yearly amount of tons of each product i consumed in the country, Yw is the yearly world-average yield for producing each product i, and EQFi is the equivalence factor for each product i.

Can carbon offsetting reduce my ecological footprint?

Yes, carbon offsetting can help to reduce your ecological footprint. Carbon offsetting is a way of compensating for your greenhouse gas emissions by investing in projects that reduce emissions elsewhere.

Does the human development index (HDI) take into account ecological footprint?

Yes, the human development index is a measure of progress that takes into account a number of factors, including life expectancy, education, and standard of living. The HDI does not explicitly consider ecological footprint, but it is indirectly related to it.

Does greenhouse gas emissions cause ecological footprint?

Yes, greenhouse gas emissions are one of the main causes of ecological footprint. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, trap heat and cause the Earth’s average temperature to rise. This can lead to drastic changes in weather patterns, which can impact the environment and human societies.

Which cities have the largest ecological footprints?

The cities with the largest ecological footprints are typically those with high population densities and large levels of consumption. Cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo have some of the largest ecological footprints in the world.

Which country is reducing its ecological footprint the most?

Between 1961 and 2003, Sweden reduced its ecological footprint by 58%. This is largely due to a shift from a heavy industrial economy to a more service-oriented one.

What country has the lowest carbon footprint?

You’ve undoubtedly never heard of Tuvalu before, which is one of the reasons why it has the lowest global carbon footprint. Their current carbon emissions are zero MtCO₂, and they intend to continue this trend by eliminating fossil fuels soon.

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