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Biocapacity describes the ability of ecosystems to produce biologically useful material and to absorb man-made waste. Furthermore, an “ecological deficit” is defined as the ecological footprint of a population exceeding its biocapacity. Accordingly, an ecological reserve can be identified. The ecological deficit in Germany corresponds to the factor 2.33. If the entire world population were to live as the Germans do, we would need 2.33 Earths to maintain the ecological balance.

The biocapacity is normally expressed in global hectares (gha).