About the Data

A measure of how much area of biologically productive land and water an individual, population, or activity requires to produce all the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates, using prevailing technology and resource management practices. The Ecological Footprint is usually measured in global hectares. Because trade is global, an individual or country's Footprint includes land or sea from all over the world. Without further specification, Ecological Footprint generally refers to the Ecological Footprint of consumption. Ecological Footprint is often referred to in short form as Footprint.

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The capacity of ecosystems to regenerate what people demand from those surfaces. Life, including human life, competes for space. The biocapacity of a surface represents its ability to renew what people demand. Biocapacity is therefore the ecosystems' capacity to produce biological materials used by people and to absorb waste material generated by humans, under current management schemes and extraction technologies. Biocapacity can change from year to year due to climate, management, and proportion considered useful inputs to the human economy. In the National Footprint Accounts, biocapacity is calculated by multiplying the physical area by the yield factor and the appropriate equivalence factor. Biocapacity is expressed in global hectares.

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Global hectares are the accounting unit for the Ecological Footprint and biocapacity accounts. These productivity weighted biologically productive hectares allow researchers to report both the biocapacity of the earth or a region and the demand on biocapacity (the Ecological Footprint). A global hectare is a biologically productive hectare with world average biological productivity for a given year. Global hectares are useful because different land types have different productivities. A global hectare of cropland, for example, would occupy a smaller physical area than the much less biologically productive pasture land, as more pasture would be needed to provide the same biocapacity as one hectare of cropland. Because world productivity varies slightly from year to year, the value of a global hectare may change slightly from year to year.

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The central data set that calculates the Footprint and biocapacity of the world and more than 200 countries from 1961 to the present (generally with a three year lag due to data availability). The ongoing development, maintenance, and upgrades of the National Footprint Accounts are coordinated by the research team at Global Footprint Network.

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The carbon Footprint measures CO2 emissions associated with fossil fuel use. In Ecological Footprint accounts, these amounts are converted into biologically productive areas necessary for absorbing this CO2. The carbon Footprint is included in the Ecological Footprint because it is a competing use of bioproductive space, since increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are considered to represent a build-up of ecological debt. Some carbon Footprint assessments express results in tonnes released per year, without translating this amount into area needed to sequester it.

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Use of goods or of services. The term consumption has two different meanings, depending on context. As commonly used regarding the Footprint, it refers to the use of goods or services. A consumed good or service embodies all the resources, including energy, necessary to provide it to the consumer. In full life-cycle accounting, everything used along the production chain is considered, including any losses along the way. For example, consumed food includes not only the plant or animal matter people eat or waste in the household, but also that lost during processing or harvest, as well as all the energy used to grow, harvest, process and transport the food.

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A generic term for factors which are used to translate a material flow expressed within one measurement system into another one. For example, a combination of two conversion factors—“yield factors” and “equivalence factors”— translates hectares into global hectares. The extraction rate conversion factor translates a secondary product into primary product equivalents.

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The difference between the biocapacity and Ecological Footprint of a region or country. An ecological deficit occurs when the Footprint of a population exceeds the biocapacity of the area available to that population. Conversely, an ecological reserve exists when the biocapacity of a region exceeds its population's Footprint. If there is a regional or national ecological deficit, it means that the region is importing biocapacity through trade or liquidating regional ecological assets, or emitting wastes into the global commons such as the atmosphere. In contrast to the national scale, the global ecological deficit cannot be compensated for through trade, and is therefore equal to overshoot by definition.

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The Earth's approximately 12 billion hectares of biologically productive land and water areas are categorized into five types: cropland, grazing land, forest land, fishing ground, and built-up land. Forest land serves two distinct and competing uses: Forest products and CO2 sequestration.

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There were ~ 12 billion hectares of biologically productive land and water areas on Earth in 2013. Dividing by the number of people alive in that year (7 billion) gives 1.72 global hectares per person. This area also needs to accommodate the wild species that compete for the same biological material and spaces as humans.

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The land and water (both marine and inland waters) area that supports significant photosynthetic activity and the accumulation of biomass used by humans. Non-productive areas as well as marginal areas with patchy vegetation are not included. Biomass that is not of use to humans is also not included. The total biologically productive area on land and water in 2013 was approximately 12 billion hectares.

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Biocapacity in global hectares (gha) divided by population
Total biocapacity in global hectares (gha)
Ecological Footprint of consumption in global hectares (gha) divided by population
Total Ecological Footprint of consumption in global hectares (gha)
'Total Population - Both sexes'; Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization, downloaded 02/24/2017
HDI = Human Development Index; Source: Trends in the Human Development Index, 1980-2014, downloaded 2/24/2017 from http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/trends
Gross Domestic Product per capita, current prices; Source: World Economic Outlook database - by countries, downloaded 2/24/2017 from http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2015/02/weodata/download.aspx
Quality of overall country data as assessed by NFA researchers. For more detail, see http://www.footprintnetwork.org/data-quality-scores/
In addition to the Ecological Footprint Explorer, we are happy to continue providing our public data package, updated for the latest version of the National Footprint Accounts. You can download it here: www.footprintnetwork.org/public
For detailed information on the Ecological Footprint, resource accounting methodology, calculating your own Footprint, or working with Global Footprint Network, please refer to our main website: www.footprintnetwork.org. Sign up for our newsletter here.
Absolutely! That is why we put it all out there. In fact, we encourage you to use Ecological Footprint data as often as possible. Here are a few examples of how other people and organizations have used our data. All we ask is that any numbers, figures, or other content you use is attributed to Global Footprint Network.

Here is a suggested citation: Global Footprint Network National Footprint Accounts, 2017 Edition Downloaded [today's date] from http://data.footprintnetwork.org.
There are several ways to get National Footprint Account data.

To download the entire 2017 Edition of the National Footprint Accounts, check out the instructions for accessing our API.

National Footprint Account results are also available on data.world where you can query, download, and comment on our data. You can also follow Global Footprint Network to get notifications when new datasets are available.


Don't know what any of that means? No problem! Just shoot an email to data@footprintnetwork.org and we'll get you set up with all your data needs.
Probably because the results weren't up to Global Footprint Network quality standards. National Footprint Accounts use internationally available data from multiple datasets for all countries, mostly provided by the United Nations and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. These datasets are official, widely obtainable, and are available in a consistent format across countries. However, data is limited, unavailable, or contains apparent errors for some countries. While the accounts include some data error improvement and estimation of missing data, results for countries and/or years are inevitably of variable reliability. As such, each set of country results is given a quality score. Currently, the Global Footprint Network Open Data Beta website only includes countries that have the highest data quality scores. For more information, check out our detailed explanation of data quality scores.