1.0 INTRODUCTION:1.1 BACKGROUND:Humanactions can consume natural resources and if the application of environmentalsustainability methods is left out, it will jeopardize the existence of NaturalResources in the future. This write up focused on the Footprint analysis asvital tool used for the assessment of sustainability of the environment and itsconstituent. The objective of this write up is therefore to substantiate thedefinition and meaning of footprint, identify the types of footprint analysisand its scope of application and also to carry out an X-ray on the challengesin using the Footprint Analysis coupled with its potentials. Its potentialsamong others include that it is useful in identifying risks that affectenvironmental sustainability while the main challenge is that this method stillremains insufficient to measure sustainability.
Since its application is stillat its nascent stage, it is therefore recommended that this method should stillbe a subject of further research to cover up for its inadequacy. Environmentalsustainability has cropped up as an important matter amidst NationalAuthorities, planners, researchers, and communities in general. A lot of workand resources have been channelled into environmental studies together with theevaluation of so many harmful impacts.Footprintshave been formulated over the years as tools used for the evaluation ofsustainability of the environment and its constituent. The Ecological footprint(EF) was developed in 1992 by Rees (Rees, 1992), and the water footprint (WF) was developed in 2002 by Hoekstraand Hung (Hoekstra and Hung, 2002). Carbon footprint (CF) happens to havebeen initiated and arise from the global warming potential.
Footprints are notso common presently and it has only been developed of late. A article reviewshows that the major categories of footprints developed to date are carbon,ecological, and water footprints, building to be called the footprint family (Galli et al., 2011, 2012).
Many other unpopular footprints are available, they are nitrogen, social, andeconomic footprints. So many explanations are in existence for some footprintsbut the definitions of some footprints (e.g., economic footprints) are notprecise. 2. What is Footprint?Afootprint is a significant analysis illustrating the allocation of naturalresources by humans (Hoekstra, 2008). A footprint explains in totality how human actions candictate numerous types of problems and consequence on Environmental sustainabilityin the World at large (UNEP/SETAC, 2009). Sustainability Development (SD)encompasses environmental protection (ecology), economic prosperity, and thesocial dimension (OECD, 2004 and 2008).
Therefore, footprint can be categorised in terms of the environmental, social,and economic dimensions of the subject matter. Footprints are usuallyconsidered as being quantified in units of area but data signified in areaunits show high difference and many obtainable flaws as to the results. TheChanging of some footprints to area units can prove to be an issue, especially formethods that are not generally area-based, such as a chemical procedure (De Benedetto and Klemes, 2009). The two types of Ecologicalfootprint are Sustainable Process Index (SPI) and the Sustainable EnvironmentalPerformance Indicator (SEPI). Both are always defined in units of area, but footprintsother than these two (SPI & SEPI), are not usually defined (only) in areaunits.
Majority of footprints also have restricted information opening and nottoo clear information. Carrying out the footprint analysis can be expensive inrespect to information and assets. It could also be time consuming. Aside thekey types of footprints, there are also inadequacy as regards applications forother footprints.
Therefore, there arepotentials and constraints of footprint analysis as a method for measuringsustainability though it cannot be appropriately be applicable yet at thisnascent stage of their growth. 3. Potentials and Constraints of footprintAnalysis as a method for measuring Sustainability.It is difficult formulate apostulate or technique to make prove and give a precise answer to the questionof maybe humanity has actually surpassed the Earth’s carrying capacity.Potentials of ecological footprint includes being appealing and spontaneous (Schaefer et al., 2006), it is also a very valuable tool to help determinerisks that pertains to environmental sustainability, Its capability to compressthe size of human pressure on various part of bioproductivity1 intoone single number is also a great potential, it also avails the opportunity topass on results to a broader audience (Wiedmann.
& Barrett, 2010) while its constraintsinclude EcologicalFootprint estimation process is insufficient, putting into use the idea ofbiological carrying capacity to human society is an error, in the estimationprocess of ecological footprint, taking into stock changes in land usage makes the postulationthat uses are interchangeable but this is not always achievable, anotherconstraints is that its discussion about carrying capacity is futile (sos2006.jp, 2017). 4. Levels of Footprint analysis: fromindividual to National.Levelsof footprint analysis begin from Individuals to understand their impact on theplanet and then goes up to Local Leaders to Optimize Projects investments andto Countries to Improve Sustainability and well-being.
5. Scope of Application of EcologicalFootprint (EF) with case study and example: The EF has come to be the globalbasic tool for analysing humanity’s demands on nature (Wackernagel and Rees, 1996) and it is broadly applied as an indicatorfor measuring environmental sustainability. The EF is defined as a assessmentof the human demand for land and water areas, and examine in contrast the humanutilization of resources and consumption of waste with the Earth’s ecologicalcapacity to regenerate (GFN, 2010).The EF provides an aggregated assessment of multiple anthropogenic pressures (Galliet al., 2012).
The EF is usually measured in global area unitsas the amount of bio-productive space (Hoekstra,2008), and in global area units per person (Ewing et al., 2010). Each global hectare represents the samefraction of the Earth’s total bio-productivity and is defined as 1 ha ofland or water normalized to the world-averaged productivity from all of thebiologically-productive land and water, within a given year. The EF can beapplied over scales ranging from single products to households, cities,regions, and countries or to humanity as a whole; however it is most effective,meaningful and robust at aggregate levels (Wackernagel et al., 2006; Galli et al.
,2012). 5.1 Casestudy in Italy: Application of Ecological Footprint Analysis (EFA) on nectarineproduction: The aim of this study was to measure theenvironmental stress of each level of nectarine production in Cuneo province, NorthernItaly, managed according to the Italian Integrated Fruit Production (IFP)protocol. The study took into consideration the impact of the one-year culturalpractices versus the whole orchard lifetime.
It also cross checked the methodof applying Ecological Footprint Analysis to fruit production. In the research,a one-year field operation was investigated including also a lifetime of theorchard was studied. The arithmetic was borne out for six different orchard levels:(L1) nursery propagation of the young plants; (L2) orchard establishment, (L3)young trees producing low yields, (L4) mature trees at full production, (L5)declining trees with low yields, and finally (L6) orchard removal.
Theenvironmental costs at each level; are presented and compared to each other onthe basis of the respective footprint value gotten by total gha of that stagedivided by the total tonnage of nectarines produced from the orchard across allyears. Results emphasised the benefit of adoption of EFA to the entirelifecycle of orchard manufactured. L4 was responsible for the many of costs at65% followed by L2, L3 and L5 at or close to 10% at the same time; the costs ofL1 and L6 were transferable.
Meanwhile, it is the Level of L4 production usedwhich can have the greatest effects on EFA standard6. Scopeof Application of Carbon Footprint (CF) with case study and example:The Carbon Footprint(CF)2 has become one of the most vital environmental protectionindicators (Wiedmann and Minx, 2008; Lamet al., 2010; Galli et al.
, 2012). CF usually denotes the bulk of Carbon IV Oxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), emitted overthe full life cycle of a process or manufacturedproduct (UK POST, 2006; BSI, 2008). The CF is quantified using such indicatorsas the Global Warming Potential (GWP) (EC, 2007), whichrepresents the quantities of GHGs that contribute to global warming and climatechange. CF includes the activities of individuals,populations, governments, companies, organizations, processes, industrialsectors, etc.
(Galliet al., 2012).6.1 Casestudy of milk production in New Zealand and Sweden – How does co-producthandling affect the carbon footprint of milk? This study investigates various procedures or techniques ofmanaging co-products in life cycle assessment (LCA) or carbon footprint (CF)studies and to show the risk of giving misleading information when different CFresults for milk are compared without a harmonised and uniform method ofhandling co-products. In the investigation, the greenhouse gases (GHG)associated with the production of 1 kg of energy-corrected milk (ECM) atfarm gate in New Zealand and Sweden is investigated considering co-producthandling. System expansion is the most preferred choice of co-product handlingmethod in reference to ISO regulations that is applicable to LCA of milk.
Theconceptual framework for LCA is used but only focusing on the GHG emissions:carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).study includes extraction of raw materials for feed production and other inputsto the milk system, and ends at the farm gate, which usually represents themain part of total GHG emissions for production of milk and dairy products(Gerber et al. 2010; Sevenster and de Jong 2008; Hospido 2005; Berlin 2002; Högaas Eide 2002). Contribution to global warming iscalculated using the global warming potential (GWP) for a 100-year time horizonaccording to IPCC (2007).
Result shows that there is a largevariation in the calculated carbon footprint of milk depending on how emissionsare divided between co-products. With all these methods Sweden (SE) milk has ahigher CF than New Zealand (NZ) milk. However, applying economic allocationresults in 9% higher CF for SE than NZ, while for mass allocation (or when allemissions are allocated to the milk), it is 16% higher.7. CONCLUSION: From the above write up, it can be deducedthat measuring sustainability through the footprint analysis has its merit anddemerits. Merits includes that footprint explains in totality how human actionscan dictate numerous types of problems and consequence on Environmentalsustainability in the World at large while its demerit is that the EcologicalFootprint estimation process is insufficient to adequatelymeasure sustainability. Carbon footprinting continues to grow as a tool formeasuring and reducing carbon emissions. The Ecological Footprint can be applied overscales ranging from single products to households, cities, regions, andcountries or to humanity as a whole; however it is most effective, meaningfuland robust at aggregate levels.
8. FOOTNOTES:1. BIOPRODUCTIVITY:is an organized occurrence which entails the ability at whichbiological processes function at numerous organization scales ranging frommolecular/cellular to the whole organism and population at large.CARBON FOOTPRINT (CF): is a term used to explainthe sum of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a development or a product systemto show their input to