Ecological footprint number

Ecological Footprint Instrumental in Supreme Court's Ruling
January 20, 2015 – 09:39 am

In a first for the Ecological Footprint and a native group in Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada supported the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s title over 1, 900 square kilometers in British Columbia as part of a landmark decision announced in June.

The historic ruling came about a decade after Tsilhqot’in Nation’s lawyers called Global Footprint Network to provide an expert study for the case, which centered on clear-cut logging permits granted by the British Columbia government without consulting the native community living on the affected land.

The government defended the so-called ("nobody's land") hypothesis—the assumption that pre-European Canada was a vast and empty land—and argued that the First Nation's title claimed was "too large."

The challenge that the Tsilhqot'in Nation posed to Global Footprint Network: provide a scientifically sound evaluation of the capacity of the land to support the native group around 1800, prior to European influence and trade.

Global Footprint Network researchers approached the problem from several angles. One was to study the Ecological Footprint of the current population of bears living on the territory. The theory was that the findings about these omnivorous animals that compete for the same food niche as humans could be used to extrapolate the Ecological Footprint of a human group living off the same land.

A second angle involved studying the current local population of wild horses as a proxy for the hooved animals that would make up the main source of animal proteins for the people. And a third approach used anthropological accounts to study the general food habits of the aboriginal population to evaluate how much food they would gather, how much they would store, and what the impact of living on the edge was.

Global Footprint Network’s research findings converged to the conclusion that the claimed area had the capacity to support between 100 and 1, 000 people – in other words, that this entire area was needed to meet the needs of the smallish nation – given their traditional hunter gatherer lifestyle. Their Footprint was both wide and light, meaning that it required a wide area given the small volume of natural resources harvested per hectare. Such a Footprint benefits biodiversity, ensuring that the natural capital can regenerate and thrive.

Popular Q&A
How did you adapt the ecological footprint model for your use?

American Public Media used some of the same questions as the Ecological Footprint Quiz, and added others to make the game fresh and fun and to allow players to answer the questions in any order. Many of the questions ask for your general habits and then convert those generalities into numbers. This involved setting the model to represent average U.S. consumer habits and then increasing or decreasing the "Earths" score according to how you describe your habits.

Related Posts