Special Issue "Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management"

A special issue of Resources (ISSN 2079-9276).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Nadia Marchettini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Physical Science, Earth and Environment, University of Siena, Pian dei Mantellini, 44, 53100, Siena, Italy
Dr. Valentina Niccolucci
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Ecodynamics Group, DEEPS Department of Earth, Environmental and Physical Sciences, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy
Interests: sustainable lifestyles; ecological footprint; ecosystem services; wellbeing economy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Natural resources are becoming progressively scarcer, mainly under the pressure of intensive exploitation. Depleting resources have local and global environmental repercussions and socio-economic consequences. Maintaining healthy and abundant natural resources is vital for the prosperity of present and future generations. Understanding human demand on nature and nature’s ability to provide ecological goods and services is fundamental for appropriate policies for the conservation of the environment and natural resources.

The Ecological Footprint is one of the most relevant and interesting method for natural capital and ecosystem accounting, and is widely cited in the sustainability debate. It captures environmental snapshots of ecosystem resource balances and sheds light on the drivers of ecological overshoot.

Contributions that encompass new and original research on this method are strongly encouraged.

Submissions may address any of the following subjects:

  • new insights into the rationale and theoretical aspects of Ecological Footprint methodology to improve its robustness, especially with regard to its capacity to assess human demand for resources;
  • integration of the Ecological Footprint with other affordable methods to keep track of both environmental and socio-economic aspects and to assess synergies and trade-offs between them;
  • specific significant case studies at different scales.

Any further suggestions are welcome.

Prof. Dr. Nadia Marchettini

Dr. Valentina Niccolucci

Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Resources is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Biocapacity
  • Carbon footprint
  • Consumption habits
  • Ecological footprint
  • Ecosystem services
  • Food consumption
  • Global environmental change
  • Land grabbing
  • Life cycle assessment
  • MRIO (multi regional input output)
  • Natural capital
  • Policy making
  • Resources accounting
  • Stock vs flow
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Sustainable development goals (SDGS)
  • Wellbeing

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
The Ecological Footprint Accounting of Products: When Larger Is Not Worse
Resources 2018, 7(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7040065 - 16 Oct 2018
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2249
Abstract
One of the main goals of any (sustainability) indicator should be the communication of a clear, unambiguous, and simplified message about the status of the analyzed system. The selected indicator is expected to declare explicitly how its numerical value depicts a situation, for [...] Read more.
One of the main goals of any (sustainability) indicator should be the communication of a clear, unambiguous, and simplified message about the status of the analyzed system. The selected indicator is expected to declare explicitly how its numerical value depicts a situation, for example, positive or negative, sustainable or unsustainable, especially when a comparison among similar or competitive systems is performed. This aspect should be a primary and discriminating issue when the selection of a set of opportune indicators is operated. The Ecological Footprint (EF) has become one of the most popular and widely used sustainability indicators. It is a resource accounting method with an area based metric in which the units of measure are global hectares or hectares with world average bio-productivity. Its main goal is to underline the link between the (un)sustainability level of a product, a system, an activity or a population life style, with the land demand for providing goods, energy, and ecological services needed to sustain that product, system, activity, or population. Therefore, the traditional rationale behind the message of EF is: the larger EF value, the larger environmental impact in terms of resources use, the lower position in the sustainability rank. The aim of this paper was to investigate if this rationale is everywhere opportune and unambiguous, or if sometimes its use requires paying a special attention. Then, a three-dimensional modification of the classical EF framework for the sustainability evaluation of a product has been proposed following a previous work by Niccolucci and co-authors (2009). Finally, the potentialities of the model have been tested by using a case study from the agricultural context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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Article
Ecological Footprint Accounting for Countries: Updates and Results of the National Footprint Accounts, 2012–2018
Resources 2018, 7(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7030058 - 17 Sep 2018
Cited by 92 | Viewed by 28723
Abstract
Ecological Footprint accounting quantifies the supply and demand of Earth’s biocapacity. The National Footprint Accounts (NFA) are the most widely used Ecological Footprint (EF) dataset, and provide results for most countries and the world from 1961 to 2014, based primarily on publicly available [...] Read more.
Ecological Footprint accounting quantifies the supply and demand of Earth’s biocapacity. The National Footprint Accounts (NFA) are the most widely used Ecological Footprint (EF) dataset, and provide results for most countries and the world from 1961 to 2014, based primarily on publicly available UN datasets. Here, we review the evolution of the NFA, describe and quantify the effects of improvements that have been implemented into the accounts since the 2012 edition, and review the latest global trends. Comparing results over six editions of NFAs, we find that time-series trends in world results remain stable, and that the world Ecological Footprint for the latest common year (2008) has increased six percent after four major accounting improvements and more than thirty minor improvements. The latest results from the NFA 2018 Edition for the year 2014 indicate that humanity’s Ecological Footprint is 1.7 Earths, and that global ecological overshoot continues to grow. While improved management practices and increased agricultural yields have assisted in a steady increase of Earth’s biocapacity since 1961, humanity’s Ecological Footprint continues to increase at a faster pace than global biocapacity, particularly in Asia, where the total and per capita Ecological Footprint are increasing faster than all other regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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Article
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(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7030052 - 13 Aug 2018
Cited by 28 | Viewed by 4935
Abstract
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) [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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Article
Ecological Footprint at the Micro-Scale—How It Can Save Costs: The Case of ENPRO
Resources 2018, 7(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7030045 - 01 Aug 2018
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2382
Abstract
The Ecological Footprint (EF) has become a very popular alternative indicator of development in the last three decades. It can be widely used to show the unsustainability of total and individual levels of consumption in countries. But can EF be a meaningful indicator [...] Read more.
The Ecological Footprint (EF) has become a very popular alternative indicator of development in the last three decades. It can be widely used to show the unsustainability of total and individual levels of consumption in countries. But can EF be a meaningful indicator at the micro level as well? This paper presents an argument on this issue. Based on a literature review including our own analysis and the correlation of EF with GDP and other alternative indicators, EF is evaluated at the macro level. Then, an original case study is presented, underpinning the applicability of EF on the company level, linking the ordinary corporate carbon footprinting with the EF method. Based on the findings, micro level EF calculations can help organizations in finding fields of intervention (inefficiencies and emission hotspots). EF accounting can also be used to evaluate the economic benefits of such measures after their realization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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Article
Implications of Land-Grabbing on the Ecological Balance of Brazil
Resources 2018, 7(3), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7030044 - 31 Jul 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2520
Abstract
In the global free-market, natural resource scarcity and opportunities for preserving the local environment are fostering international purchasing of large extensions of land, mainly for agricultural use. These land transactions often involve land cover change (i.e., through deforestation) or a shift from extensive [...] Read more.
In the global free-market, natural resource scarcity and opportunities for preserving the local environment are fostering international purchasing of large extensions of land, mainly for agricultural use. These land transactions often involve land cover change (i.e., through deforestation) or a shift from extensive or traditional to intensive agricultural practices. In Brazil, the land appropriation by foreign investors (i.e., the so-called “land-grabbing”) is affecting natural capital availability for local communities to a different extent in the very different territorial entities. At the same time, Brazilian investors are purchasing land in other countries. Ecological footprint accounting is one appropriate lens that can be employed to visualize the aggregated effect of natural capital appropriation and use. The aim of this paper is to provide a first estimate on the effect of land-grabbing on the ecological balance of Brazil through calculating the biocapacity embodied in purchased lands in the different states of Brazil. The results show that Brazil is losing between 9 to 9.3 million global hectares (on a gross basis, or a net total of 7.7 to 8.6 million of global hectares) of its biocapacity due to land-grabbing, when considering respectively a “cropland to cropland” (i.e., no land-cover change) and a “total deforestation” scenario. This represents a minimum estimate, highlighting the need for further land-grabbing data collection at the subnational scale. This analysis can be replicated for other countries of the world, adjusting their ecological balance by considering the biocapacity embodied in international transactions of land. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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Article
Assessing the Ecological Footprint of Ecotourism Packages: A Methodological Proposition
Resources 2018, 7(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7020038 - 16 Jun 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 6361
Abstract
Tourism represents a key economic sector worldwide, constituting great leverage for local economic development but also putting noticeable environmental pressures on local natural resources. Ecotourism may be a viable alternative to mass tourism to minimize impacts on ecosystems, but it needs shared sustainability [...] Read more.
Tourism represents a key economic sector worldwide, constituting great leverage for local economic development but also putting noticeable environmental pressures on local natural resources. Ecotourism may be a viable alternative to mass tourism to minimize impacts on ecosystems, but it needs shared sustainability standards and monitoring tools to evaluate impacts. This paper presents a first methodological proposition to calculate the environmental impact of ecotourism packages through the use of an ad-hoc, customized version of the Ecological Footprint methodology. It follows a participatory, bottom-up approach to collecting input data for the four main services (Accommodation, Food & Drinks, Activity & Service, and Mobility & Transfer) provided to tourists through the use of surveys and stakeholders engagement. The outcome of our approach materializes in an excel-based ecotourism workbook capable of processing input data collected through surveys and returning Ecological Footprint values for specific ecotourism packages. Although applied to ecotourism in Mediterranean Protected Areas within the context of the DestiMED project, we believe that the methodology and approach presented here can constitute a blueprint and a benchmark for future studies dealing with the impact of ecotourism packages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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Article
Building Robust Housing Sector Policy Using the Ecological Footprint
Resources 2018, 7(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources7020024 - 23 Mar 2018
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3263
Abstract
The vulnerability of the urban residential sector is likely to increase without the mitigation of growing household Ecological Footprints (energy demand, CO2 emissions, and demand for land). Analysis comparing the effectiveness and robustness of policy to mitigate the size of the housing [...] Read more.
The vulnerability of the urban residential sector is likely to increase without the mitigation of growing household Ecological Footprints (energy demand, CO2 emissions, and demand for land). Analysis comparing the effectiveness and robustness of policy to mitigate the size of the housing Ecological Footprint has been limited. Here, we investigate three mitigation options: (1) reducing housing floor area, (2) improving the building envelope efficiency, and (3) reducing the carbon intensity of the electricity sector. We model the urban residential Ecological Footprint for a sub-national case study in Australia but analyse the results in the global context. We find that all three mitigation options reduce the Ecological Footprint. The success of policy to reduce household energy demand and land requirements is somewhat dependent on uncertain trajectories of future global population, affluence, and technological progress (together, global uncertainty). Carbon emissions reductions, however, are robust to such global uncertainty. By reducing the Ecological Footprint of the urban residential housing sector we see a reduction in its vulnerability to future global uncertainty, global carbon price, urban sprawl, and future energy shortages. Over the long term, such policy implementation can also be highly cost effective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Assessment for Resources Management)
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