The impact of the space development structure on the level of the ecological footprint is an important element of the sustainable development policy, determining not only its directions, but also indicating the manner of respecting environmental principles. The aim of the research is to assess the impact of the spatial development structure on the ecological footprint level. The considerations are based on the assumption that the spatial development structure is a determinant of the ecological footprint level. The study used the shift share analysis method. Selected European countries were the subject of the research. The research period covered the years 2009-2019. The spatial differentiation of the GDP level and the ecological footprint were compared. For each country, the components of structural changes were determined and their changes over time were assessed. The study positively verified the main hypothesis and the auxiliary hypothesis. The ecological footprint decreased in the analyzed period. This phenomenon was not evenly distributed in European countries. Regions with a higher level of changes in the phenomenon than the EU average can be distinguished. The greatest changes in the demand for biosphere' natural resources in hectares of land and sea were recorded in Latvia and Lithuania. In contrast, the largest decrease in the size of the ecological footprint was observed in Cyprus. Differentiation of changes was visible within the individual components making up the ecological footprint in the analyzed period. The biggest changes took place within the fishing grounds. The smallest changes were recorded for cropland. This paper is expected to provide policy makers with a set of policy proposals to achieve sustainable environmental and economic development.
Keywords: Ecological footprint; Human impact assessment; Natural resources' management; Shift share analysis; Sustainability indicator; Sustainable development.
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