Slovak schools are to take part in a new project to measure their environmental impact, or so-called ‘ecological footprint’. “The Slovak Environmental Agency (SAŽP) in cooperation with British experts has prepared an innovative educational programme called Ecological Footprint for Schools, the first of its kind in Slovakia. So far, only schools in the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, and the Czech Republic are able to calculate their ecological footprint,” Jana Šimonovičová of the Centre of Environmental Education and Promotion of the SAŽP announced, adding that the goal of the programme was to make children from nursery, elementary and secondary schools aware of the impact of their everyday activities on the environment.
“The basis of the programme is an internet calculator that measures the ecological footprint of each school in eight main categories of consumption,” Šimovičová said. Teachers can register their school in the programme through an on-line registration form at www.ekostopa.sk. Afterwards, the school gains the right to use the online calculator to measure its ecological footprint and as an interactive teaching aid for practical environmental education. The interactive website of the programme is intended to serve as a modern tool for inter-subject environmental education.
The ecological footprint is a method for measuring the impact of human activities on our planet expressed through the area of the territory we use for securing our needs and our lifestyle. The calculation is based on the presumption that all sources that we consume and the waste we produce can be counted in terms of an area of productive soil and sea. The resulting footprint is composed of the total of various categories of the earth that we use, e.g. arable soil, the area covered with buildings, roads, parking lots, forests required for wooden products but also to absorb the carbon dioxide resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, etc. From information in last year’s Ecological Footprint Atlas, the average ecological footprint of each of Earth’s inhabitant is currently 2.7 global hectares, while every one of us has an actual share of 2.1 hectares. This means that we all draw on more natural resources than the planet is able to renew. Moreover, some countries claim more natural resources than others. The ecological footprint of a US citizen was judged to be 9.4 hectares, while that of a Nepalese citizen was just 0.8 hectares. One Slovak claims 3.3 hectares of the earth’s surface, i.e. if every inhabitant of Earth consumed the same amount as an average Slovak, we would need not one, but one-and-a-half planets to live on.