Urban hinterlands—the case of an Israeli town ecological footprint

Modern urban life is characterized by the consumption of materials and energy, which are imported from all over the world and discharge waste that in many cases has a negative impact on ecosystems far from the cities in which they consumed. Indeed, cities cannot survive without worldwide hinterlands for resources and emissions sequestration. The ecological footprint (EF) concept provides valuable insights into the human appropriation of resources relative to earth’s carrying capacity, and therefore it enables us to compare human demands with nature’s supply and provides an indicator of human ecological sustainability. An attempt was made to calculate the EF of Ra’anana, Israel as a case study, to compare the EF-value with the expected for ecological sustainability and to emphasize the dependence on overseas ecosystems. Ra’anana, a town of 67,300 inhabitants in the year 2002, is considered a ‘dormitory town’ with a high quality of life. The EF was calculated using mainly the component method. The calculated EF for Ra’anana is 4.0 ha/resident which means that the required hinterland, located all over the world, is nearly 180 times the size of the town. The town’s EF is twice the value expected for sustainability on a global scale. We draw several scenarios in order to reduce the EF. On a national basis as well as with the town case study, electric energy, food and waste can be reduced and in turn would have a dramatic impact on the EF.