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Urban and Ecological Footprints

More than one million people are added to the world's cities each week, and by the year 2000 over a half of the total world population will be urban
Consider the immense pressure put on the environment. Researchers Bill Rees and Mathis Wackernagel have developed the ecological footprint concept—the area of land needed to provide the necessary resources and absorb the wastes generated by a community—to highlight the impact of cities on the environment. London, UK serves as a good example: the ecological footprint of that city is 120 times the area of the city itself. They estimate that a typical North American city with a population of 650,000 would require 30,000 square kilometres of land—an area roughly the size of Vancouver Island, Canada—to meet domestic needs alone without even including the environmental demands of industry. In comparison, a similar size city in India would require 2,800 square kilometres.

Planners are faced with enormous challenges in providing a secure environment that meets the needs of both people and natural systems. And cities are not self-contained entities. Their problems and solutions are part of and impinge on those in other jurisdictions, putting even more pressure on already over-burdened local governments.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) - Developing Ideas Digest
Resources on Footprint Analysis:
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