Abstracts of presentations given on Wednesday, 19 July 2006, in session 25 of the UCOWR Conference.


Ecological footprint analysis (EFA) has been defined succinctly (Rees, 1997) as estimating the total area of productive land and water required to produce on a continuous basis all the resources consumed and to assimilate all the wastes produced by [a] population, wherever on Earth the land may be located. EFA assumes that (a) all stocks of material resources, including water, air, nutrients and energy, are finite; (b) where a local deficiency in any of those stocks is overcome by commerce, the transaction merely displaces the ecological stress associated with harvesting and using that stock but does not eliminate it; and (c) humans are integral rather than external to the ecosystems in which they operate. EFA may be an intuitive means by which to monitor progress toward sustainability; to compare the ecological impacts of cities, life-styles, or technologies; or to weigh aggregate human demand against available supply. General EFA distills all significant ecological costs of an enterprise to a single unit of currency: ecologically productive land area per capita. Applied to a single industry, such as cattle feeding, a more practical currency would be land area per unit of annual throughput or productivity (e. g., ha hd-1). In this paper, we present a preliminary calculation of the ecological footprint of the cattle-feeding industry in the Texas Panhandle, with particular focus on the overt contributions of water-resource consumption to that footprint, as well as the more obscure contributions related to appropriation of water resources beyond the Texas Panhandle.