Partners seek city's footprint

What size is Cardiff's footprint? That is the question being investigated by a unique partnership between Cardiff University and Cardiff Council in Wales, UK.

Experts want to determine the city's ecological footprint to show how sustainable or otherwise current consumption and production patterns are within the Welsh capital.

An ecological footprint is a measure of the demand of human population on nature. It provides a valuable tool for planners to link economic growth and environmental protection.

The footprint calculates how much land area an average citizen requires for everything they consume (products, resources) and produce (waste, emissions, pollution) per year. It is expressed in global hectares (gha) of 'earthshare'.

Studies have shown that our real 'earthshare' how much resource there is to go around - is 2.18 gha per person on the planet, but national footprints show that western lifestyles are unsustainable. A citizen of the USA has a footprint of 9.6 gha. For Wales, the figure is 5.25 gha, but in India it is just 1 gha.

Dr. Alan Netherwood has been seconded from his post as Sustainable Development Co-ordinator at Cardiff Council to work on the project as a Visiting Research Fellow in the BRASS Centre (for Business, Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society) at Cardiff University.

"This is going to be a very important piece of work for the city," said Dr Netherwood. "The information we gather will help the council's transport planners, waste managers and economic development team. It will also help the council's work on air quality, climate change, housing, food and procurement, providing valuable data to plan for more sustainable futures."

"The Welsh footprint was measured in 2000 through an initiative by World Wildlife Fund Cymru and the Welsh Assembly," said Dr. Netherwood. "However, it relied heavily on proxy data from the rest of the UK, and our work along with a sister pr

Contact: Dr. Alan Netherwood
Cardiff University

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