Ecosystem appropriation by Hong Kong and its implications for sustainable development
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is a highly developed modern city where technical and economic advances have made it possible to support 7 million people on 120 km2 of built-up land, resulting in 58 000 people per km2, one of the highest population densities in the world. This population depends on a continual supply of materials, energy and information to function, and these resources are mainly supplied from outside Hong Kong's own geographical boundaries. The ecological footprint (EF) of Hong Kong due to its direct and indirect consumption of renewable resources and waste generation is presented. Additionally, the paper traces the spatial patterns of Hong Kong's EF and examines the implications of this ecosystem appropriation. The study finds an EF for Hong Kong of about 6 ha per capita, with the largest appropriation occurring for marine ecosystems. If the impacts of fish farming are included, Hong Kong appropriates a marine area nearly 2000 times its own built-up city area. Current resource consumption and waste generation patterns in Guangdong, China — where much of Hong Kong's terrestrial ecosystem appropriation occurs — are also discussed.