Biocapacity: living within our local limits webinar recording

The recording for the November 2021 webinar with Dr Ella Susanne Lawton on Biocapacity: living within our local limits is now available.  Also attached are several papers referenced during her talk.

Ella was the primary researcher for the New Zealand Footprint Project in 2013. The project looked at how different lifestyles and urban forms consumed differently and the types of changes needed to live within each person’s fair earth share. The project team was also interested in understanding the role that policy could play in the development of urban forms that support individuals and communities to reduce their individual and collective footprint.

Ultimately the answer is to live and consume locally. Hyper-localism can reduce the average ecological footprint by more than half. Living locally means relying on the available biocapacity of your catchment, and the infrastructure available to support it. Lifestyles, particularly of the wealthy, would be drastically different. We will explore these opportunities using the scenarios developed through the NZ Footprint  Project research.

Ella is a generalist specialist with a passion for connecting people to their natural environment. She believes that science is failing to give people an honest insight into the resource constrained future we are headed for. She was the South Island Project Manager for Otago Polytechnic’s Centre for Sustainable Practice, and has taught sustainable practice at both Otago Polytechnic and University of Otago. In 2013 Ella was elected to the Queenstown Lakes District Council and later the Otago Regional Council.

In 2019 Ella moved her tiny house to Invercargill where she and her partner Nathan have embarked on the journey to build an off-grid home. Her next challenge is to contribute to local food system resilience by becoming a small-scale producer of healthy happy food.


An Analysis of New Zealand’s Ecological Footprint as Estimated by the Global Footprint Network (PDF, 326KB) prepared by: Robbie Andrew and Vicky Forgie, 2009

An Analysis of New Zealand’s Ecological Footprint as Estimated by the Global Footprint Network: An Update (PDF, 761KB) prepared by: Robbie Andrew and Vicky Forgie, 2011

Ecological Footprints and interdependencies of New Zealand regions (PDF, 610KB) article by Garry W. McDonald, Murray G. Patterson, in Ecological Economics, 50 (2004) 49–67

Ecological Footprints of New Zealand and its Regions (PDF, 2.6MB) by Garry McDonald and Dr Murray Patterson, Environmental Reporting Technical Paper, Ministry for the Environment, September 2003

Human Carrying Capacity: Stage 2: Application of Concept to KƗpiti Coast District report (PDF, 533KB) by Robbie Andrew and Daniel Rutledge, 2011