When we think about the environment it is easy to concentrate on the big issues, such as climate change, but where we live - whether in a rural areas, town or city - is just as important. The condition of our local environment can have a dramatic effect on our quality of life, our health and how safe we feel.
Local Environmental Quality is one of the indicators of Sustainable Development, assessing street cleanliness, condition of the highway infrastructure, environmental crime such as graffiti or fly tipping and the condition of the street scene. Data is now available at a national and regional level. Local authority reports are currently being drawn up by Encams and are ready for much of the region, with the rest due in 2008.
Other indicators of Sustainable Development that assess our quality of life include the satisfaction of the local environment and environmental equality. Environmental equality is a new indicator of Sustainable Development for 2007. It shows the proportion of people in graduated 10% bandings of the 2004 indices of multiple deprivation experiencing different numbers of the least favourable environmental conditions. These conditions include ambient air pollution, industrial airborne releases, green space, habitat favourable to biodiversity, derelict land, flood risk, river water quality and housing quality.
The national Green Flag Award, which recognises and rewards the best green spaces in the country.
The world only has a finite amount of resources. How we live can have a global impact when the resources that we use exceed what nature can provide. An eco-footprint is an estimate of the land and sea area needed to provide all of the energy, water, materials, goods and services that we consume. A key question is whether this exceeds what nature can sustainably support.
Ecological Footprints are becoming increasingly utilised as a powerful way of raising awareness of sustainable development issues in regions. It is a comprehensive account of the resources consumed by a population, measuring the balance between human demand and nature's supply. It estimates how much productive land and sea, expressed in global hectares, is needed to provide the energy, food and materials we use in our every day life, as well as how much land is required to absorb our waste. It also calculates the emissions generated from the oil , coal and gas we burn, and determines how much land is required to absorb them. The biological capacity (available supply) of the earth is approximately 11.3 billion global hectares - a quarter of the earth's surface. The productive area of the biosphere translates into an average of 1.8 global hectares per person - known as our 'earth share' or 'fair share'. The Ecological Budget UK project has produced a comprehensive baseline assessment examining the ecological footprint, material flow analysis and CO2 emissions for each English region and local authority