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AVAILABLE HERE! Sonoma County's Ecological Footprint Report

Redefining Progress, an Oakland-based think tank, calculated Sonoma County's Ecological Footprint, a measurement of people's demand on nature, 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 about four more Earths.

The following describes the Ecological Footprint Project, which was completed in May 2002.

"The Ecological Footprint Project is a community-based public awareness and action program that uses 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 innovative project.

The project's goals are 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


Photo One of the key sustainability tools SSC uses is the Ecological Footprint, co-created by Dr. Mathis Wackernagel of Redefining Progress. The Ecological Footprint measures human impact on the natural environment in acres or hectares. It facilitates comparisons between a community's available and its consumed resources, thus enabling people to grasp what must be done to protect environmental resources on local, regional and global levels. The need for people to learn about the Ecological Footprint, particularly in this country, is enormous. The average U.S. footprint is 30 acres per capita, the largest in the world. If everyone consumed like people in the U.S. do, we would need at least five more 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. Sustainability futurist Donella Meadows lists the Ecological Footprint at her top indicator for measuring sustainability. In a similar vein, Dr. Wackernagel 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 has designed an extensive outreach program to complement The Ecological Footprint Project including a large public information campaign through the mass media and interactive education booths on college campuses, at farmers markets, and other places where the public congregates. SSC is currently soliciting funding for these additional outreach activities that will enhance this project."

For more information, check out the Ecological Footprint concept page or contact Ann Hancock (707) 829-1224

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