Sustainable Scotland
Sustainable Scotland

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Sustainable Scotland

1 Measuring up

A way of measuring sustainability is footprinting. There are several types of footprints [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] that can be measured. One of the footprinting methods you will find people often referring to is ecological footprinting (EF). The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) link on the site above gives more details about EF, and includes a link to the standards used to try and ensure that everyone is measuring in the same way. The unit of measurement given in the FAQ section of the site is the global hectare, which is explained in the glossary.

Activity 1

One of the priority themes for the Sustainable Scotland Network-->(SSN) is local footprinting for councils and schools. You can check your local council's footprint online, using search engines, or in assocation with the Stockholm Environment Institute. Here's an example of London's footprint by borough.

Have a look through these sites, and make notes on what you have read.

Ecological footprint of a city

Activity 2

Go to this report on Scotland's cities. This will give you another look at EFs from a Scottish perspective. You should concentrate on section 7.2.5 in this report. Why did the Scottish Executive decide to use the Responsibility Principle for this particular analysis?

Make notes on what you have read.



Figure 7.1 of the report in Activity 2 provides an effective image of the division of types ofland used in the calculations. It shows the main components of the EF, simplified into 'biodiversity', 'built land', 'energy land', 'bioproductive sea' and 'bioproductive land'. A city's EF is enormously larger than the area of the city itself. It has been estimated, for example, that the area of land and sea required to feed continuously, supply forest products, accommodate, and absorb the carbon dioxide (CO²) produced by London's 7 million inhabitants living their current lifestyles, is over 39 million global hectares. This is the geographical area of Germany and Denmark

Personal ecological footprint

An Environmental Health Check is a process where people look at their footprint by surveying all of their activities around their house. There are various online EF calculators that you can access by using your browser to search for 'footprint calculator'.


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