## Monday, September 13, 2010

### How many are in a hectare?

Today we look at an interesting unit of surface area. It's the HECTARE (not hect-acre), a unit employed when measuring property or large expanses of land.

Hectares came up in an article about the founders of clothing companies North Face, Esprit and Patagonia. The Tompkins sold their businesses and put more than \$150 million US dollars into the Conservation Land Trust, dedicated to saving wilderness regions of the world.

Now back to the hectare issue. The article I read said the trust owned more than 830,000 hectares of land. That sounds like a lot, but I couldn't envision the size of the hectare, and thus couldn't visualize how large these plots of land might be.

Let's see if our elementary math skills can help. If we search on hectare we find this image on Wikipedia:

It suggests that a hectare is 10,000 square meters, or an area 100 meters by 100 meters. Notice that a hectare does not have to be square; it can be any shape as long as the shape contains 10,000 sq meters.

The same rules apply to an acre, which is an area of 43,560 square feet. An acre was originally specified as 660 ft  (a furlong) x 66 ft (a chain) but it means an area of any shape containing the right square footage.

Americans tend to use acres for land measurement while most of the rest of the world use hectares. An acre is .4 hectare, so 2.5 acres make one hectare.

Now we can convert the 830,000 hectares.

2.5 x 830,000 = 2,075,000 or about 2 million acres. Multiply by .00386 to get 3,204 square miles.
How big is that? you say. Here's the last part of a list of countries of the world, ranked by land area. The following countries are all SMALLER THAN the area owned by the Conservation Land Trust:

161 Brunei2,227.81
163 Cape Verde1,557.15
164 Samoa1,136.68
165 Luxembourg998.46
166 Comoros837.84
167 Mauritius787.65
168 Sao Tome and Principe 386.49
169 Kiribati313.13
170 Dominica291.12
171 Tonga 288.80
172 Micronesia271.04
173 Singapore267.57
174 Bahrain256.76
175 Saint Lucia237.84
176 Andorra180.70
177 Palau176.83
178 Seychelles175.68
179 Antigua and Barbuda171.04
181 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 150.19
183 Malta122.01
184 Maldives115.83
185 Saint Kitts and Nevis 100.77
186 Marshall Islands 69.88
187 Liechtenstein61.78
188 San Marino 23.55
189 Tuvalu10.04
190 Nauru 8.11
191 Monaco 0.77
192 Vatican City0.44

The US states of Delaware and Rhode Island and the District of Columbia are SMALLER THAN the area owned by the Conservation Land Trust.

Puerto Rico is just slightly larger than the Conservation Land Trust's holdings.