Estimation of ecological footprint for Madurawala Divisional Secretariat area, Kaluthara District

W.D. Sepalika and U.A.D.P. Gunawardena

The Ecological Footprint calculates the combined demand for ecological resources and presents them as the global average area needed to support a specific human activity. This quantity is expressed in units of global hectares. Present resource utilization expressed by such indicators will be helpful to recognize the future trends. Main objective of the study is to calculate Ecological Footprint per person in the Madurawala Divisional Secretariat area under four major land-use types which are crop land, carbon uptake land, forest land and built up land. In addition, it was intended to estimate the relationship between the socioeconomic parameters of the community and the footprint.

Madurawala Divisional Secretariat area in the Kaluthara district was selected for the study. Stratified random sampling method was used based on the income level of the households. To collect primary data, two surveys were carried out. First survey involved collecting data using a diary kept at the households to obtain actual daily consumption data on food consumption, electricity consumption and traveling data. The diaries were distributed among 50 households and were recollected after a month. The second survey involved a questionnaire survey of 49 households focusing on the same consumption data and forest product consumption and built up area data. In addition, secondary data were collected from various sources.

The comparison of data obtained from diaries and questionnaires prove that there is no significant difference between the two data collection methods according to the Mann- Whitney test. So both samples were considered as a single data set.

All consumption data values were converted into hectares by dividing from the national yield. The resultant hectare values were converted into global hectares (gha) by multiplying the yield factors and equivalence factors for each criterion.

The estimated footprint per person for cropland for food items is 0.21 gha and 0.15 gha for carbon uptake lands. The forest land Ecological Footprint is 0.01 gha and footprint for built up land is 3.07 × 10 -4. The total Ecological Footprint value for all categories is 0.37 gha per person.

According to the results of the multiple regressions analysis total Ecological Footprint has positive relationship with the income, age and the education level of the decision maker in the household. There is negative relationship with the number of members in the household.

The figures of Ecological Footprint are rather low compared to the estimates available worldwide. However, the estimates are for a rural area with low resource consumption and estimates for more  urban areas would be necessary to provide an indication of the overall trend of resource consumption of the country.

W.D. Sepalika and U.A.D.P. Gunawardena
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Sri Lanka

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