Environmental and resource burdens associated with an urban community and its surrounding bioregion

Geoffrey P. Hammond, Trevor Iddenden, Jane Wildblood

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1 Citation (SciVal)


Environmental or 'ecological' footprints have been widely used in recent years as partial indicators of sustainability; specifically of resource consumption and waste absorption transformed on the basis of the biologically productive land area required by a defined population. The carbon and environmental footprints of the Unitary Authority of Bath & North East Somerset (Bathnes) in the South West of England (UK) have been determined. It represents an example of sustainability assessment on an urban and bioregional scales from which lessons can be drawn in a wider context of strategic planning for low carbon development. Bathnes covers an area of 352 km2, of which two thirds is so-called 'green belt' land. The UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath is the principal settlement in the district, but there are also a number of smaller urban communities scattered amongst its surrounding area ('hinterland' or bioregion'). The environmental footprint has been computed in terms of global hectares (gha) required per capita. Thus, the overall footprint for Bathnes was estimated to be 3.77 gha per capita (gha/cap), which is well above its biocapacity of 0.67 gha/cap and the 'Earthshare' of 1.80 gha per capita. Direct Energy use was found to exhibit the largest footprint component (a 31% share), followed by Materials & Waste (30%), Food & Drink (25%), Transport (10%), Built Land (4%), and then the Water footprint (~0%). Such data provides a baseline against which to assess their planning strategies for future development. Cities and towns require resources from beyond their geographic boundaries, but rural communities also take advantage of the modern infrastructure and services typically provided in an urban setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-486
Number of pages6
JournalEnergy Procedia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • bioregional planning
  • Cities
  • Environment
  • Footprint analysis
  • Low carbon development
  • Sustainability
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy


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