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Resources 2018, 7(3), 52;

Application of Ecological Footprint Accounting as a Part of an Integrated Assessment of Environmental Carrying Capacity: A Case Study of the Footprint of Food of a Large City

Department of Spatial Economy, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, ul. Grunwaldzka 55, 50-357 Wrocław, Poland
Faculty of Social Work & Education, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Johanna Westerdijkplein 75, 2521 EN Den Haag, The Netherlands
Global Footprint Network, 426 17th Street, Suite 700, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences, Campus Universitário de Santiago, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 July 2018 / Revised: 29 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 August 2018 / Published: 13 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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The increasing rate of urbanization along with its socio-environmental impact are major global challenges. Therefore, there is a need to assess the boundaries to growth for the future development of cities by the inclusion of the assessment of the environmental carrying capacity (ECC) into spatial management. The purpose is to assess the resource dependence of a given entity. ECC is usually assessed based on indicators such as the ecological footprint (EF) and biocapacity (BC). EF is a measure of the biologically productive areas demanded by human consumption and waste production. Such areas include the space needed for regenerating food and fibers as well as sequestering the generated pollution, particularly CO2 from the combustion of fossil fuels. BC reflects the biological regeneration potential of a given area to regenerate resources as well to absorb waste. The city level EF assessment has been applied to urban zones across the world, however, there is a noticeable lack of urban EF assessments in Central Eastern Europe. Therefore, the current research is a first estimate of the EF and BC for the city of Wrocław, Poland. This study estimates the Ecological Footprint of Food (EFF) through both a top-down assessment and a hybrid top-down/bottom-up assessment. Thus, this research verifies also if results from hybrid method could be comparable with top-down approach. The bottom-up component of the hybrid analysis calculated the carbon footprint of food using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method. The top-down result of Wrocław’s EFF were 1% greater than the hybrid EFF result, 0.974 and 0.963 gha per person respectively. The result indicated that the EFF exceeded the BC of the city of Wrocław 10-fold. Such assessment support efforts to increase resource efficiency and decrease the risk associated with resources—including food security. Therefore, there is a need to verify if a city is able to satisfy the resource needs of its inhabitants while maintaining the natural capital on which they depend intact. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecological footprint; food; city; environmental carrying capacity; sustainable development ecological footprint; food; city; environmental carrying capacity; sustainable development

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Świąder, M.; Szewrański, S.; Kazak, J.K.; Van Hoof, J.; Lin, D.; Wackernagel, M.; Alves, A. Application of Ecological Footprint Accounting as a Part of an Integrated Assessment of Environmental Carrying Capacity: A Case Study of the Footprint of Food of a Large City. Resources 2018, 7, 52.

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