Hacı Mehmet BOYRAZ
International Relations & Political Science and Public Administration, Gediz University

Ecological Footprint of PERU, 2010

Sponsor Bağlantılar


* Summary
* Keywords
* What is ecological footprint
* The ecological footprint analysis and its use
* National footprint accounts tables for 2010 of Peru: a summary of the report
* References and Endnotes
* Conclusion


The reports prepared by the WWF International about Ecological Footprints of countries play an important role to see the situations of the world in both present and future. By looking at the results of these reports, politicians, bureaucrats, scientists and other actors in environmental politics can create or apply new rules into their domestic policies. Peru is one of the states which have a critical situation today compare to the position in 2007. Even it has a tropical climate; something is going wrong in Peru. In this work, we will see what is happening in Peru according to the statistics of 2010’s report.

Key Words

Bio-capacity, Ecological footprint (EF), Global Footprint Network, Living Planet Report, WWF International

What is ecological footprint?

To understand what ecological footprint (EF) is, we have to be familiar with what the terms “ecology” and “footprint” are. According to the Oxford Dictionary, “ecology” is “the relationship between living things and the environment, or the scientific study of this”. The other term “footprint” is “a mark made by a foot or shoe”.

There are a lot of meanings of ecological footprint in many different sources. Before the most suitable definition for us, we would like to introduce three meanings that exist in internet. Firstly, one of the sources indicates that it is “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.” (1) Secondly, another source indicates that “the ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet’s ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population consumes, and to assimilate associated waste.” (2) What the most suitable definition for us about ecological footprint is that “the ecological footprint is a resource accounting tool that measures how much biologically productive land and sea is used by a given population or activity, and compares this to how much land and sea is available”. (3) Also, our own definition is based on that it is a measure of the impact humans have on the environment is called an ecological footprint. Productive land and sea areas support human demands for food, fiber, timber, energy, and space for infrastructure. These areas also absorb the waste products from the human economy. The EF measures the sum of these areas, wherever they physically occur on the planet. The EF is used widely as a management and communication tool by governments, businesses, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations. (4)

There are components of EF. They are based on cropland, forest, carbon, grazing land, fishing grounds, and built-up land.  They are required to produce the food, fiber and timber it consumes, to absorb the wastes emitted when it uses energy and to provide space for infrastructure. (5)

Today’s technologies can measure EF of countries one by one more efficiently. The importance of this measurement is based on how much of the biological capacity of the planet is demanded by a given human activity or population? (6) The EF measures the amount of biologically productive land and water area an individual, a city, a country, a region, or all of humanity uses to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates with today’s technology and resource management practices. (7)

Also, there are ecological footprint standards which specify criteria governing methods, data sources and reporting to be used in footprint studies. (8) These standards established by the Global Footprint Network Standards Committee serve to produce transparent, reliable and mutually comparable results in studies done throughout the Footprint Community. The EF provides measure of the extent to which human activities exceed bio-capacity. Specifically, the EF integrates (i) the area required for the production of crops, forest products and animal products, (ii) the area required to sequester atmospheric CO2 emissions dominantly caused by fossil fuel combustion, and (iii) the equivalent are estimated to be required by nuclear energy demand. (9)

The last point we would like to add is based on the choices to manage our planet better according to WWF’s perspective. These choices are mainly based on: (10)

• Preserve natural capital: protect biodiversity,
• Produce better,
• Consume more wisely,
• Redirect financial flows, and
• Equitable resource governance.

Briefly, the size of the footprint expresses how much of the earth’s surface is needed to sustain a given population at its current level of consumption. (11) It is a measure of the area needed to support a population’s lifestyle. This includes the consumption of food, fuel, wood and fibers.

The ecological footprint analysis and its use

To have better information about what the EF analysis, we have to know how it is calculated. According to the online sources, (12) we can basically see its calculation. The EF of a person is calculated by considering all of the biological materials consumed, and all of the biological wastes generated, by that person in a given year. These materials and wastes each demand ecologically productive areas, such as cropland to grow potatoes, or forest to sequester fossil carbon dioxide emissions. All of these materials and wastes are then individually translated into an equivalent number of global hectares. To accomplish this, an amount of material consumed by that person is divided by the yield of the specific land or sea area from which it was harvested, or where its waste material was absorbed. The numbers of hectares that result from this calculation are then converted to global hectares using yield and equivalence factors. The sum of the global hectares needed to support the resource consumption and waste generation of the person gives that person’s total EF.

By knowing the calculation of ecological footprint, we can understand the issue of analysis. “The EF highlights the reality of ecological scarcity, which can be disconcerting and frightening information. The existence of global overshoot suggests that human society will need to make significant changes to ‘business as usual’ if it wants to create a sustainable future. Robust and accurate EF accounts can help us make decisions towards sustainability, and can quantitatively show the positive impacts of groups, businesses, and people making decisions that are helping to bring human demand within the means of the planet.” (13)

The Living Planet Report (LPP) is helping raise public awareness of the pressures on the biosphere and spreading the message that ‘business as usual’ isn’t an option. (14) We can see the ecological footprint analysis in the annual Living Planet Reports prepared by the WWF International. The institution searches the real ecological footprints state by state all over the world. In the reports, living planet indexes play an important role to see the situation of the world because it reflects changes in the state of the
planet’s diversity, using trends in the size of population of beings.

When we look at an analysis of Sheffield University cooperated with Mark Newman University, countries have different footprints because their size of territories, percentage of population, and scope of biodiversity are different. (15) The USA, China and India have the largest ecological footprints. Without knowing population size we cannot understand what this means about individuals’ ecological demands. Large populations live in China and India. In both territories resource use is below the world average. The footprint per person in the USA is almost ten times what would be sustainable.

Moreover, countries have different bio-capacities as well as footprints. This is normal because some countries with high bio-capacity cannot have a large national footprint. We can give more answer to this problematic issue, but if analysis this issue via an example, it will be better to understand. For example, Bolivia has a per capita footprint of 2.6 gha and a per capita bio-capacity of 18 gha. However, it is worth noting that this bio-capacity may well be being exported and utilized by other nations. (16)

Peru’s ecological footprint

A general view of the Report, 2010

According to the researches of WWF, the percentage of EF has a lot of fluctuations. Especially, if we look at the statistical analysis, in 1960 Global Hectares per Capita (GHC) for EF in the world was near to 5; but in 2005 it was 8. The GHC for global bio-capacity in 1960 was near to 7; but in 2005 it was near to 4. According to the Report of 2010, this is because of the fact that rapid economic growth has fuelled an ever-growing demand for resources – for food and drink, energy, transport, electronic products, living space, and space to dispose of wastes, particularly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. (17)

Peru’s situation

Before focusing on Peru’s ecological footprint, we need some information about the country. Today’s population of the country is near to 30 million. 16% of this population lives without access to an improved water source, 28% without adequate sanitation services, and 44% living below the poverty line. According to global footprint network, (18) in natural resources, Peru is using the EF to evaluate regional differences in bio-capacity and resource demand. The country’s recent economic boom has enabled it to make major gains in alleviating poverty and raising standard of living. Officials are using footprint accounting to assess how they can build on this progress while maintaining the ecological wealth that is central to the country’s rising success.

Because of the limited source about Peru’s ecological footprint analysis, the page of the Ministry of Environment (MEF) was really beneficial for us. Peru’s MEF has made a careful assessment of the country’s EF and bio-capacity one of its first priorities. (19) The following information about Peru’s ecological footprint conditions are very important to analyze.

“One of the world’s most geographically and biologically diverse countries, Peru’s EF falls within the ‘one planet’ level of 1.8 global hectares available per person worldwide.  In recent years Peru has experienced its highest economic growth ever and seen significant reductions in poverty. Even so, the country faces constraints on critical resources, such as water, that threaten these gains. It also faces key social challenges, such as chronic malnutrition and regional poverty rates that top 60 percent in some places. In Peru, increasing quality of life in a way that doesn’t spur resource shortages is an especially pressing concern.” (20)

A few years ago, Peru created a Ministry of Environment to deal with such challenges, and in 2010, as part of the Ministry’s first full budgetary cycle; it dedicated funds to work with the Footprint.  For them, it is of particular importance to have information and indicators that account for their growing demand on the bio-capacity of the planet to meet their needs.

“Global Footprint Network is working with Peru-based consultancy Libélula to develop a method of analysis that will reflect the broad differences in bio-capacity and consumption levels of various regions. Global Footprint Network is helping the fledgling ministry to find funding sources to promote this work.” (21)

Important points in the Report of 2010 for Peru to analysis

Ecological Footprint per country, per person according to the Report of 2010

(Source: The Report of 2010)

Statistics in this charter (Ecological Footprint) are very visible in the Report 2010. Peru’s order in this charter is 102 among 153 countries (the position of Peru is colored as red, where the world as green). The first country is the United Arab Emirates whose number of global hectares demanded per person is above 10. The numbers of global hectares demanded per person in 6 groupings for Peru are generally below the world’s average scores. The exact situations for Peru in this charter are as:

1. Carbon is below the world’s average,
2. Grazing is above the world’s average,
3. Forest is below the world’s average,
4. Fishing is below the world’s average,
5. Cropland is below the world’s average,
6. Built-up land is above the world’s average.

The main important point here is that the EF according to 6 groupings which broadly represent different economic levels, illustrates that higher income, more developed countries generally make higher demands on the Earth’s ecosystems than poorer, less developed countries. (22)

Bio-capacity per country, per person according to the Report of 2010

(Source: The Report of 2010)

Statistics in this charter (Bio-diversity) are mostly the reverse of the previous one. Peru’s order here is 26 among 153 countries (the position of Peru is colored as red, where the world as green). The first country is Gabon whose number of global hectares demanded per person is near to 30. The number of global hectares available per person in terms of grazing land, forest land, fishing grounds, cropland and built-up land for Peru are generally above the world’s average scores. The exact situations here for Peru are as:

1. Grazing is above the world’s average,
2. Forest is above the world’s average,
3. Fishing is below the world’s average,
4. Cropland is above the world’s average,
5. Built-up land is above the world’s average.

The focus here is that analysis of bio-capacity at the national level reveals that over half the world’s bio-capacity is found within the borders of just ten countries. Bio-capacity per person, calculated by dividing national bio-capacity by the country’s population, is also not equivalent around the world. (23)

Production water footprint of nations in km3/year according to the Report of 2010
alt=”” width=”534″ height=”335″ />
(Source: The Report of 2010)

The water footprint of productions is the volume of freshwater used by people to produce goods, measured over the full supply chain, as well as the water used in households and industry, specified geographically and temporarily. (24)

Peru’s order here is 50 among 153 countries (the position of Peru is colored as red). The first country is India whose production water footprint in total is beyond 3500 in km3/year. The exact sources of grey water, blue water and green water for Peru in total are below 100 km3. This number is very crucial. This indicates that Peru has a shortage of water. According to the report of 2010, although less than 1% of all freshwater found on earth is currently accessible for direct human use, there is enough water available to meet human and environmental needs. (25) In the sense of Peru, 16% of this population lives without access to an improved water source. Thus, we can deduce that Peru has fresh water shortages like many countries, but due to the help of having a good geographic position; Peru is a little bit better compare to others. However, the world is going go a more difficult situation in the context of fresh water. The LPP of 2010 has some scenarios which uses the footprint data between 1961 and 2007 as a baseline, and projects the size of each footprint component in 2015, 2030 and 2050. (26) These scenarios are based on:

• A median population increase to 9.2 billion by 2050,
• CO2 emissions and bio-fuel use increasing in line with increased population and economic growth,
• Forest area continuing to follow the linear trends seen between 1950 and 2005,
• Forest plantation and crop yields remaining constant,
• World average daily calorie availability rising to 3130 kcal per person by 2050, an 11 per cent increase over the level in 2003. The number of calories is high as it represents food production, so includes both food eaten and food wasted.

A brief view of Peru’s EF

(Source: footprintnetwork.com)

To summarize the three previous charters, we have a good table which includes everything we need. By looking at this table, we can say that Peru is in a difficult situation because almost of the data are below the world average scores. The statistical data for Peru show the following results:

• The EF (hectares per person) for Peru is 1.33%,
• The proportion relative to world average for Peru is 0.42%,
• The proportion relative to world area available for Peru is 0.74%,
• Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Peru is 9.200$.

Also, Peru has a relatively high Gini coefficient (49.8 in 2007), indicating that distribution of income is not equitable. This highlights the importance of using more than one indicator to comprehensively assess the multiple facets of social, environmental and economic sustainability. (27)


According to the calculations, in 2007, only one country in the world could be listed as sustainable and that was Peru. The country boasted a Human Development Index of 0.086 and an ecological footprint of 1.5 hectares. (28) However, Peru is not without problems in spite of achieving this high sustainability status. Approximately 50% of Peru is covered with rainforests and most of these are protected from illegal logging. In spite of this, the country battles deforestation due to illegal squatting, road expansion, mining, and petroleum drilling. The country also struggles with wealth inequality but the country’s Environmental Minister hopes to eliminate deforestation using international aid. (29)

References and Endnotes

1. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/glossary/#Ecologicalfootprint (23.04.2014)
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_footprint (23.04.2014)
3. http://www.earthday.org/footprintfaq (23.04.2014)
4. http://www.earthday.org/footprintfaq (23.04.2014)
5. http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/people_and_the_environment/human_footprint/ecological_footprint/ (23.04.2014)
6. http://www.earthday.org/footprintfaq (23.04.2014)
7. http://www.earthday.org/footprintfaq (23.04.2014)
8. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/glossary/#Ecologicalfootprint (23.04.2014)
9. European Commission: “Analysis of Existing Environmental Footprint Methodologies for Products and Organizations: Recommendations, Rational and Alignment”, page 14
10. Leape, Jim: “Intro Iec: Earth-Environmental Facts” pdf, Director General of WWF International, page 22
11. Bill, Burgess and Jessica, Lai: “Ecological Footprint Analysis and Review” pdf, Kwantlen University College, 2006, page 4
12. http://www.earthday.org/footprintfaq (23.04.2014)
13. http://www.earthday.org/footprintfaq (23.04.2014)
14. Living Planet Report 2010, page 3
15. www.worldmapper.org (26.04.2014)
16. Leape, Jim: “Intro Iec: Earth-Environmental Facts” pdf, Director General of WWF International, page 10
17. Living Planet Report 2010, page 4
18. http://issuu.com/globalfootprintnetwork/docs/2010_annual_report_spread
19. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/peru/ (26.04.2014)
20. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/peru/ (26.04.2014)
21. http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/peru/ (26.04.2014)
22. Living Planet Report 2010, page 36
23. Living Planet Report 2010, page 42
24. Living Planet Report 2010, page 46
25. Living Planet Report 2010, page 50
26. Living Planet Report 2010, page 8
27. Living Planet Report 2010, page 74
28. http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/04/peru-sustainability-sweet-spot/ (27.04.2014)
29. http://issuu.com/globalfootprintnetwork/docs/2010_annual_report_spread (27.04.2014)