Ecological footprint analysis methodology

This section includes an abridged version of the methodology described in The Ecological Footprint of the UK (Barrett & Simmons, 2003). The methodology used for Stepping Forward further develops this general approach, and is wholly compatible with the National Footprint Accounts, as calculated by Wackernagel et al. (Redefining Progress, 2002) and published in the Living Planet Report 2002 (Loh, 2002) – see below.


The capacity to produce biomass such as crops, grass or timber.


The total bioproductive area of a country or region.

Equivalence factors

The ecological footprint (as measured using global average yields) is normalised by applying equivalence factors. These are multipliers which adjust different area and sea types according to their relative bioproductivity.

Yield factors

When calculating the biocapacity of an area, the land types and sea available are normalised to world average equivalents using locally derived yield factors. These are multipliers which express the extent to which local bioproductivity is more or less than the world average for that land or sea type.

Source: Lewan & Simmons, 2001