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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering >> 2015, Volume 9, Issue 6 doi: 10.1007/s11783-014-0670-0

The calculation of equivalence factor for ecological footprints in China: a methodological note

1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.2. Dongcheng Educational Research Centre, Beijing 100101, China

Accepted: 2014-03-18 Available online: 2015-11-23

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The Ecological Footprint (EF), a physical indicator to measure the extent of humanity’s use of natural resources, has gained much attention since it was first used by Wackernagel and Rees in 1996. In order to appraise land area types with different levels of productivity, they introduced the concept of an equivalence factor. This relates to the average primary biomass productivities of different types of land (i.e. arable land, pasture, forest, water/fishery, built-up land and fossil energy land) to the regional average primary biomass productivity of all land types in a given year. Hence, the equivalence factor is an important parameter in the EF model and it directly affects the reliability of all results. Thus, this article calculates equivalence factors on the national and provincial levels in China based on Net Primary Production (NPP) from MODIS 1 km data in 2008. Firstly, based on the Light Utility Efficiency and CASA model, the NPP of different biologically productive lands of China and of different provinces was calculated. Secondly, China’s equivalence factor for 6 land area types was calculated based on NPP: arable land and built-up land has an equivalence factor of 1.71, forest and fossil energy land has a factor of 1.41, pasture has a factor of 0.44 and water/fishery 0.35; Finally, the equivalence factor of 6 land area types in different provinces was also calculated. The NPP of each ecosystem type varies along with the equivalence factor in different provinces. However, the ranking of the equivalence factors in different provinces remain the same, with that of arable land being the largest, and the water/fishery being the smallest.

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