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The Ecological Footprint Project
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The Ecological Footprint Project was a community-based public awareness and action program that used the Ecological Footprint, a key tool for measuring the impact of human activity on the natural environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted SSC $10,000 in Fall 2001 to conduct this project that was completed in May, 2002.

Redefining Progress, an Oakland-based think tank, calculated Sonoma County's Ecological Footprint and determined that it is 22 acres per person. This means it takes 22 acres of land and sea throughout the world to support each resident of Sonoma County. If everyone in the world consumed like the average person in Sonoma County, we would need four more Earths!

To learn more:

Background:

The goals of the Ecological Footprint Project were to:

  • Calculate the per capita size of Sonoma County's Ecological Footprint.
  • Gather and synthesize input from local experts about the calculation.
  • Create and distribute a report about Sonoma County's Ecological.
  • Footprint that incorporates the input from local experts and makes recommendations for action.
  • Hold a conference that brings together elected officials, community leaders, and the broader community to learn about and prompt action regarding Sonoma County's Ecological Footprint.
  • Encourage community members to calculate and reduce their personal and the community's ecological footprint.
  • Serve as a model for other communities.

PhotoThe Ecological Footprint measures human impact on the natural environment in acres or hectares. It facilitates comparisons between a community's available versus its consumed resources, thus enabling people to grasp what must be done to protect environmental resources on local, regional and global levels. The average U.S. footprint is 24 acres per capita, the largest in the world. If everyone consumed like people in the U.S. do, we would need at least five planets.

Prominent international scientists have heralded the Ecological Footprint. For example, biologist E.O. Wilson, called "one of the twentieth century's greatest thinkers," considers the Footprint to be one of the most significant recent ecological inventions because of its ability to communicate complex scientific information in relatively simple terms to explain the relationship between human consumption and the natural environment. The late sustainability futurist Donella Meadows listed the Ecological Footprint at her top indicator for measuring sustainability. In a similar vein, Dr.Mathis Wackernagel, co-creator of the Ecological Footprint considers Sustainable Sonoma County to be one of the most advanced groups in the nation for using the Ecological Footprint to create social change at the community level.

SSC is continuing to develop additional outreach activities that further spread the idea of the Ecological Footprint. For more information, check out the Ecological Footprint concept page or contact us.


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