Nature's regenerative capacity

Biocapacity is the area of biologically productive land and water on Earth that is available to meet people’s needs. 
Example Ecological Footprint components
© Edward Parker / WWF; Brent Striton / Getty Images/ WWF-UK; National Geographic Stock / Paul Nicklen / WWF-Canada

It takes into account two factors:

1. The area available for:
  • cropland for producing food, fibre and biofuels
  • grazing land for animal products such as meat, milk, leather and wool
  • coastal and inland fishing grounds
  • forests, which both provide wood and can absorb CO2.
2. The productivity of the land
  • measured by how much the crops or trees growing on it yield per hectare.
Both the Ecological Footprint (which represents demand for resources) and biocapacity are expressed in units called global hectares (gha), with 1gha representing the productive capacity of 1ha of land at world average productivity.

Biocapacity is not spread evenly around the world

Figure 21: Top 10 national biocapacities in 2007: 10 countries alone accounted for over 60% of the Earth’s biocapacity.
© Global Footprint Network

Over half the world’s biocapacity is found within the borders of just 10 countries:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • the United States
  • the Russian Federation
  • India
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Indonesia
  • Argentina
  • France
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