The Ecological Footprint (EF) draws upon a long line of theory, and was created by William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel in the mid 1990s as an indicator of the sustainability of the human economy. It is a means of gauging humanity's impact upon the natural environment, a standardized measure of the consumption of renewable resources (or equivalents). EFs are based on the premise that it is possible to measure humanity's reliance and impact upon the natural world through a simple accounting of the resources consumed, and more specifically the "land" from which they are derived. It's ecological significance comes from the fact that it then becomes possible to "balance the books", as it were.

Remainder = Biocapacity - Ecological Footprint

Where each term is in global hectares (gha; 1 hectare = approx. 2.5 acres), a form of area normalized for average productivity. A positive Remainder is a "surplus" or reserve, and negative values are deficits. If we use per capita values Biocapacity is then the normalized form of:

Population Density-1


I have created cartograms of American state footprints, and national footprints (below).

The maps are labeled for the date of the source data, and not the year footprint calculations were published; typically three or four years later.

Some of the choices made when I created the 2002 global cartogram mean that this version is conceptually odd, and cannot be compared to the 2003 map. These choices also allowed a minor flaw to be introduced into the map. See Errata below for more information

Static Maps of Earth

2015 (LPR 2011): Traditional gha per capita excess/remainder SVG; New gha per capita remainder/acess ÷ gha per capita SVG
This update was created for an exhbition at COP21 in Paris. I'd still like to make some adjustments to the layout and format, but am making these available in ther interim.

Creative Commons License You may use or adapt the content I have created below this URI under the Creative Commons license specified without fee or permission, although I would appreciate being notified. Also contact me for other licensing terms.

Use the SVG format for publishing.

2003 (LPR 2006): GIF, PNG, SVG
2002 (LPR 2005+): GIF, PNG, SVG

This thematic map shows two variables; 1) coloration indicates reserve(green) – deficit(red)1 of national biocapacity and 2) area indicates absolute consumption of biocapacity.

Consumption = Appropriated National Biocapacity + Imports - Exports

petit prince personal planetoid

The area of each country has been distorted to represent its consumption i.e.; its ecological footprint. Countries which appear larger than normal are consuming more than their fair earth share2 and smaller countries are consuming less3.

  1. Features with missing data are shown in blue, and are scaled as if they were in ecological balance.
  2. fair earth share; global biocapacity per capita, also known as "personal planetoid", down from 2.1 gha in 2002 to 1.8 gha in 2003. Note that this does not take into account reserves for biodiversity.
  3. The local "surplus" biocapacity of these nations is typically exported to support the deficits of other countries.

Interactive Maps of Earth

2003 (LPR06): Not yet available
2002 (LPR05+): Small (800x512), Large (1280x768)

The maps may take *quite awhile* to load, either seemingly hanging on "loading layers" or displaying "exception" in the applet instead of the splash screen. Have patience and it ought to load anyways. I have no idea why this occurs, but it seems to be related to my using an unreleased beta version of the MAPresso applet.
This is a map of the ecological remainder per capita, by nation.
This is a map of the ecological footprint per capita, by nation.
This is a map of population density in people per hectare, by nation.
This is a traditionally colored map.


The original cartogram is a business-as-usual extrapolation of the 2005 Living Planet Report's 2002 data to the then present (2005) population for each country. Subsequent versions do not continue this confusing practice, and are named for the year of the data and not the year the report was issued.

Regions for which there was insufficient data available (shown in blue on the 2002 map) were originally scaled by the global hectare/real hectare ratio (=1.1). Some regions for which footprint data was unavailable were mistakenly scaled by population en lieu of area. Luckily, most of these locales are very small/sparsely populated. In the raster (GIF, PNG) versions of the map, or vector versions at normal magnification, the effect is largely unnoticeable and most pronounced for: Guyana, Suriname, Oman, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Unpopulated regions e.g; Antarctica; were similarly scaled but confusingly colored as if they had no deficit. The 2003 map uses blue for any area without a (significant) population or calculated EF data.


I began these maps in the fall of 2006 after making the connection between my previous environmental mapping efforts and the asbtract environmental footprint I had been tasked to study as an intern at l'X.

The majority of the work is in combining national statistics from various data sources into a single database table, and joining this to a GIS country map set for use with a cartogram production software package such as MAPresso. With MAPresso I manually step the engine about 7 or 8 times, until the areas of two large countries seem to match the ratios of their EFs. The cartogram is produced this way in order to minimize distortion, before exporting it to EPS format for post-processing in a vector graphics package.

Once the initial map was completed I sent it to the WWF and it was linked to from the Living Planet Report (LPR) website. The WWF subsequently included their own version of an EF cartogram in the 2006 LPR.

Sources & Tools

Related Resources

Global Footprint Network (GFN)
Living Planet Report
A biannual report by the WWF on the state of the environment, with updated EF statistics.
My Footprint
Calculate your own ecological footprint.
Maps and Graphics at UNEP/GRID-Arendal
A UN sustainability atlas.