In addition to enjoying the myriad outdoor activities and striking natural beauty of Austria’s Gesäuse National Park, visitors are now able to immerse themselves in the world’s first walkable Ecological Footprint.
In July, the national park held the grand opening of its newest attraction adjacent to its Willow Dome Nature Center. Styled in the form of a labyrinth, the Ecological Footprint (Der ökologische Fußabdruck) garden invites visitors to discover the Ecological Footprint of their nation and their own lifestyles. Citizens, tourists, and school groups playfully explore the environmental impacts of various consumption habits (such as diet, clothing, shopping and energy use) and learn about more sustainable options.
The Ecological Footprint is a measure of how much area of biologically productive land and water an individual, population or activity requires to produce all the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates. According to Global Footprint Network’s most recent data, Austria’s per capita Ecological Footprint is approximately two times the global average and about three times as much as is sustainable. If everyone in the world consumed like Austria, we would need 2.98 Planets.
National Park Gesäuse has a commitment to conservation, research, and public education of the natural world. With this new permanent exhibition the park service aims to raise public awareness of both national and individual Ecological Footprints and explore ways to reduce them.