An approach to the ecological footprint of Malargüe, Argentina

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Una aproximación a la huella ecológica de Malargüe, Argentina
Andrea Iturbe
Elsa Marcela Guerrero
Journal Article
Revista Estudios Ambientales, Volume 2, Issue 2
Every day, more people choose to live in cities. Cities are the physical support for many human populations and where economic and social activities are developed. Nevertheless, urban areas are heterotrophic systems from an energetic and ecologic view hardly dependent on matter and energy which usually come from productive external ecosystems, even from distant territories. Also, the growing demand for material and energy in urban contexts cause an increasing pressure on vital species for human beings and other organisms in the regional and extra-regional terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, with important effects in natural resources and ecological services associated to them. This paper analyzes productive terrestrial ecosystem appropriation associated with the consumption in the city of Malargüe, Argentina, in 2010. It employed Rees (1996) methodology called the Ecological Footprint (EF). It allows us to measure resources demand which come from the city's external ecosystems in spatial terms (hectare). In order to calculate the ecological footprint, some consumption categories or items - e. g. food, wood and paper, carbon sequestration, wastes final disposition and urban uses- were established. To express them in area terms (ha), it was necessary to take specific decisions to adapt the original methodology to the particular case of Malargüe. It was also necessary to know the physical and social economic consumption characteristics and to assess how these are related with external ecosystems. Once the total ecological footprint area had been calculated, it was compared with the local charge capacity to know if it was sustainable or not. As a result, the city was unsustainable considering the categories or items studied. The consumption of ecosystem productive areas in the city of Malargüe proved to be 16.45 times bigger than its own administrative area.
Original Abstract
Cada vez más personas eligen establecerse en el medio urbano. Las ciudades se convierten en los ámbitos preferidos por las poblaciones humanas para desarrollar sus actividades económicas y sociales. Sin embargo, y en términos ecológico-energéticos, las ciudades son sistemas heterotróficos, altamente dependientes de la materia y energía que proviene de ecosistemas productivos externos muchas veces distantes. La creciente demanda de insumos materiales en las ciudades aumenta la presión sobre ecosistemas terrestres y acuáticos regionales y extra-regionales con efectos importantes sobre los recursos naturales y servicios ecológicos que son imprescindibles para la vida humana y de otras especies. Este trabajo analiza la apropiación de ecosistemas terrestres productivos asociada al consumo de la ciudad de Malargüe, Argentina, en 2010. Emplea la metodología desarrollada por Rees (1996), Huella Ecológica (HE), que permite medir en términos espaciales (hectáreas) la demanda de recursos provenientes de ecosistemas externos a la ciudad. Para su cálculo se establecieron categorías o ítems de consumo: alimentos, madera y papel, secuestro de carbono, disposición de residuos y suelo urbano. Para expresarlos en términos de superficie (ha) se tomaron decisiones particulares para adaptar la metodología original a las condiciones particulares de la ciudad de Malargüe. Fue necesario conocer las características físicas y socio- económicas de los consumos y evaluar la manera en la que se relacionan con los ecosistemas productivos externos a la ciudad. Una vez calculada la Huella Ecológica total de la ciudad se compara con la capacidad de carga local, permitiendo conocer la sustentabilidad ambiental del ámbito de estudio. Resultando insostenible bajo las condiciones de consumo analizadas.
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