Determining the ecological sustainability of Calshoor basin using the Ecological Footprint method

Document Type : Research Paper


Determining the ecological sustainability of Calshoor basin using the Ecological Footprint method
Ziaedin Badehian1*, Masoumeh Mansouri2
1. Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lorestam University, Iran
2. PhD Student in Forestry, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lorestan University, Iran

During the recent years, issues such as emission of greenhouse gasses, environmental degradation and deforestation along with the reduction of the biological capacity of the Earth have been one of the most important global concerns. Obviously, an individual has a daily effect on the planet Earth, however, the problem is the rate of the impact that each person leaves on the Earth. In this respect, the present study aims to investigate the effects of different land uses on the Kalshoor watershed applying the EF method. For this purpose, first, we introduce the concept of ecological footprint then the result of the calculation of this indicator will be presented and discussed.

Material and methods
Study area
The study area is Kalshoor watershed being a mountainous area located in the North East of Iran in Sabzevar city (36° 12′ 48.63″ N, 57° 40′ 35.39″ E). The area of the region is about 243232 hectares.
Based on the method proposed by wackernagel and Rees, below steps should be taken to calculate the Ecological Footprint (EF):
1- Estimation of per capita consumption of consumers’ good as per the regional data and division the total consumption by the population of the area.
2- Estimation of land allocated to an individual for the production of each case through the division of average annual consumption of each case by the average annual production or land yield.
3- Calculating the average EF for an individual through the addition of all the allocated area for the parts consumed by a person in a year.
4- Calculating the EF of the designated area through multiplying average EF for an individual by the population size.
The primary result of this study showed that the basin of Kalshoor, due to its geographical position, has productive lands, which makes the agriculture the second prevalent land use in the area after range management. Other parts of the area are composed of forest, residential areas, lake, river, and springs. Moreover, part of water consumption, and services and energy parts have the highest and the lowest rate of EF, respectively. Regarding the population of the study area (775033), overall EF of the Kalshoor, is about 1076337 ha. Considering the total area of the study area (243231/61), meeting the needs of the residents, requires for an area 4.4 times bigger than the present basin area. This means that we have the land shortage of 1052105/39 ha for ecological land. In other words, the Kalshoor watershed basin should be supported in meeting its needs. In all parts of consumers’ goods, EF exceeds the total available land. Of total land shortage in the area, 48% belongs to the section of Water consumption. In the section of transport part with 15% of the total land shortage of the basin, have the least role in the unsustainability of the area. The partial calculation also shows that only in the sections of agriculture, constructed land, the EF of Kalshoor basin is lower than biological capacity, and there is no ecological shortage for these two sections.

The rate of per individual EF in Kalshoor basin, in comparison to that of in the country of Iran and world (with 1/16 and 1/60ha respectively), is low. The Unsustainability of the Kalshoor basin is due to inordinate exploitation of the present resources. Moreover, another reason for unsustainability in the study area is a low yield of agricultural productions. In addition, due to the presence of the tourists in this area and the subsequent environmental impacts, the rate of EF increases. If the current trend of resource depletion continues, regional sustainability will be endangered. For lessening the rate of EF, three comprehensive solutions has been presented: 1- enlargement of the planet Earth! 2- reduction of the population 3: reduction of the per capita consumption. The first solution is apparently impossible and the second one is very difficult and time dependent. Nevertheless, the third solution seems quite necessary. Tomas Malton (1798) suggests the second solution. This scientist warns about the population growth and assert that consumption increases with increasing population, while in the long term the rate of food production will be lesser than population growth (Salehi et al., 2010). Wakernagel et al (2000), believe that technology can improve the capability of lands to increase the efficiency of the resources. One of the proposed methods to reduce the EF is decentralized density. Holden and Hoyer (2004) argue that the decentralized density (building relatively small cities with high-density and low distances between houses and public and private services) will ultimately reduce the EF in the residential section. In other words, by the construction of small and dense towns, EF is reduced. Therefore, policies about redistribution of the population in the lands are debatable. One of the major factors in reducing EF is scientific management, especially in urban residential which guarantees the achievement of sustainable urban facilities. Many environmentalists believe that the continuity of the traditional economic patterns and excessive consumption of materials and natural resources in a region will jeopardize the human survival. Conclusively, considering the environment and natural ecosystems in decision-making processes, require a profound understanding of EF concept and taking political protective actions to control and decrease the rate of EF. Therefore, informing about extreme using of the ecosystems and decreasing the production of waste and its retrieval, applying efficient technologies to decrease the rate of exploitation of ecosystems and controlling industrial pollutions of modern technologies to supply the ecological sustainability of different ecosystems, seems inevitable.
tainability for different ecosystems, seems inevitable.


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