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Huellas ecolgicas en Monteverde, Costa Rica
Ecological footprints in Monteverde, Costa Rica
In this study I calculated the Ecological Footprints of community members in three areas in the zone of Monteverde, Costa Rica. The three areas that I studied were San Luis/ Caitas, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano,
and Monteverde. I presented a survey of 21 questions regarding a persons environmental impacts in rural communities and more urban communities. I assessed the difference in Ecological Footprints, Carbon Footprints, Food Footprints, Housing Footprints, and Goods and Services Footprints between the three communities and determined no statistically significant differences. The mean Ecological Footprint in San Luis/ Caitas was 8.12, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano was 8.44, and Monteverde was 7.04. Additionally, I compared the footprints in the three communities with the mean footprints in Costa Rica as a country.
Costa Ricas mean Ecological Footprint (10.5) and Carbon Footprint (3.6) were significantly higher than those of the three communities I looked at in Monteverde. There were no significant differences between
the Food Footprints and Goods and Services Footprints. I found that food consumption was the most influential factor in the Ecological Footprints in San Luis/ Caitas, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano, and Monteverde (48%, 52%, 49% respectively). The Housing Footprint was a higher percentage of the total Ecological Footprint in San Luis/ Caitas (32%) in contrast to Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano (19%), and Monteverde (20%). The percentage of Goods and Services Footprint in the total Ecological Footprint was similar in San Luis/ Caitas, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano, and Monteverde (13%, 14%, and 14%, respectively). I also examined what percentage of people in each community finished primary school, high school, and university, as well as what percentage of people were from Monteverde, San Luis, other areas in Costa Rica, and areas outside of Costa Rica. Using the Ecological Footprint to determine the impact that a person has on the environment is extremely important in raising awareness through the knowledge of how each individual and their personal decisions can affect the environment. Through assessing different communities, understanding can be achieved as to how community dynamics and individual decisions can be utilized to improve human impact on the environment.
En este estudio calcul la huella ecolgica de los miembros de la comunidad en tres reas diferentes dentro de la zona de Monteverde, Costa Rica; San Luis/Caitas, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano y Monteverde. Utilice una encuesta de 21 preguntas sobre el impacto de las personas en las comunidades urbanas y rurales. Utilice las diferentes huellas entre las comunidades y determine que no hay diferencias entre las comunidades.
Text in English.
Ecological disturbances--Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Monteverde Zone
Ecological disturbances--Costa Rica--Guanacaste--Caitas
Alteraciones ecolgicas--Costa Rica--Puntarenas--Zona de Monteverde
Alteraciones ecolgicas--Costa Rica--Guanacaste--Caitas
Sostenibilidad del ambiente
Tropical Ecology 2009
Ecologa Tropical 2009
Huellas de carbono
t Monteverde Institute : Tropical Ecology
Ecological Footprints in Monteverde, Costa Rica Sarah Ory Department of Biology, University of Puget Sound ABSTRACT In this study I calculated the Ecological Footprints of community members in three areas in the zone of Monteverde, Costa Rica. The three areas that I studied were San Luis/ CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano, and Monteverde. I presented a survey of 21 questions regarding a personÂ€s environmental impacts in rural communities and more urban communities. I assessed the difference in Ecological Footprints, Carbon Footprints, Food Footprints, Housing Footprints, and Goods and Services Footprints between the three communities and determined no statistically significant differences. The mean Ecological Footprint in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas was 8.12, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano was 8.44, and Monteverde was 7.04. Additionally, I compared the footprints in the three communities with the mean footprints in Costa Rica as a country. Costa RicaÂ€s mean Ecological Footprint 10.5 and Carbon Footprint 3.6 were significantly higher than those of the three communities I looked at in Monteverde. There were no significant differ ences between the Food Footprin t s and Goods and Services Footprints. I found that food consumption was the m ost influential factor in the Ecological Footprints in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano, and Monteverde 48%, 52%, 49% respectively. The Housing Footprint was a higher percentage of the total Ecological Footprint in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas 32% in c ontrast to Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano 19%, and Monteverde 20%. The percentage of Goods and Services Footprint in the total Ecological Footprint was similar in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano, and Monteverde 13%, 14%, and 14%, respectively. I also examined what percentage of people in each community finished primary school, high school, and university, as well as what percentage of people were from Monteverde, San Luis, other areas in Costa Rica, and areas outside of Costa Rica. Using the Eco logical Footprint to determine the impact that a person has on the environment is extremely important in raising awareness through the knowledge of how each individual and their personal decisions can affect the environment. Through assessing different com munities, understanding can be achieved as to how community dynamics and individual decisions can be utilized to improve human impact on the environment. RESUMEN En este estudio calculÃ© la huella ecol Ã³gica de los miembros de la comunidad en tres Ã¡reas d iferentes de la zona de Monteverde, Costa Rica; San Luis/CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano y Monteverde. UtilicÃ© una encuesta de 21 preguntas sobre el impacto de las personas en las comunidades urbanas y rurales. Utilice las diferentes huellas entre las c omunidades y determine que no hay diferencias entre las comunidades. El promedio de la huella ecolÃ³gica para San Luis/CaÃ±itas fue de 8.12, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano 8,44 y Monteverde 7,04. Adicionalmente compare la huella ecolÃ³gica en promedio de las tres comunidades con el promedio de Costa Rica como paÃs. En este caso la huella ecolÃ³gica para Costa Rica es mayor. EncontrÃ© que el consumo es el factor que ejerce mayor influencia en las tres comunidades estudiadas 48%, 52%, 49% respectivamente . El porcen taje de la huella por servicios en la huella ecolÃ³gia total fue similar para las Ã¡reas estudiadas. AdemÃ¡s examine el nivel educativo alcanzado por los habitantes de cada zona. Usando la huella ecolÃ³gica para determinar el impacto de cada persona en el am biente es muy importante para determinar el impacto que cada individuo y de las decisiones personales que pueden afectar el ambiente. A travÃ©s del asesoramiento a diferentes comunidades, se puede entender como la dinÃ¡mica de la comunidad y las decisiones individuales pueden ser utilizadas para mejorar el impacto humano en el ambiente.
INTRODUCTION Throughout human history, people have exploited natural resources. Unsustainable use of resources leads to environmental degradation, which is a problem that m ust be addressed from ecological, social, economic and political perspectives Lubchenco 1998. Considering the world population of approximately 6.7 billion, and the rapid depletion of resources, it is crucial to understand the causes and mitigation possi bilities of environment degradation Jorgenson 2003. In addition, it is of great importance to use this understanding to advance society toward a more sustainable, economically stable and socially fair culture Lubchenco 1998. The Fourth Assessment Repor t of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has proclaimed that humans have significantly contributed to the considerable warming of the planet since 1750 IPCC, 2007. Human generated carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions have signif icantly increased since 1750, a likely correlation with the warming of the planet IPCC 2007. Knowledge about how someone can alter his or her impact on the environment is imperative in creating a global culture of environmental stewardship Lubchenco 199 8. Many decisions that a person makes have implications that will either affect the environment in a positive or negative way Jorgenson 2003. It is these decisions that are important to raise awareness about. We impact the environment through our daily habits like the decisions to drive, to eat imported food or meat, or to recycle. A person can simply make a conscious effort to minimize their impact on the environment by reducing the amount of resources they use and by modifying their daily practices Ro senburg 1997. The carrying capacity of Earth can be defined as the maximum population that can be supported without depleting or permanently damaging the resources available or the surrounding ecosystem Aina 1992. The human population has now surpassed the carrying capacity of Earth and we are damaging the functionality of our planet. It is nearly impossible to quantify the global carrying capacity accurately, but through understanding the stress we are placing on the environment it is easy to see how w e are causing damage. It is estimated that humans use half of EarthÂ€s net terrestrial primary production Abernathy 2001. This statistic illustrates just how much humans are exploiting EarthÂ€s limited resources. Other factors that influence the impact peo ple have on the environment include culture, affluence and location. As a nation develops and affluence increases, there is a significant increase in consumption Myers and Kent 2003. Furthermore, urbanization has a significant impact on the environment d ue to dense populations, consumerism, and the lack of urban planning Foley at al. 2005. For example, ChinaÂ€s meat consumption has increased 15% since 1961, which has far reaching implications for deforestation in South America in order to produce enough soy to feed the livestock, which in turn cause increased carbon and methane emissions Halweil and Nierenberg 2008. Through awareness and education of how our actions can impact the environment, perhaps we can still preserve the resources we have and prot ect the natural environment that is continuously being degraded. In recent years, researchers have been trying to quantify human impacts on the environment. Reese 1992, William Reese first created the concept of the Ecological Footprint to measure how diff erent actions and the uses of resources affect the environment Rosenburg, 1997, Martine, 2009. The ecological measurements can be
conducted on an individual level, family level, community level, national level, and globally. The data used to calculate an Ecological Footprint estimate the effect that person, family, community, or country has on the environment. Furthermore, the results indicate whether the Earth can support the lifestyle of the respondent. These calculations are useful in determining how t he human population is affecting the environment, while enabling people to understand their personal impact and make changes. Ecological Footprint calculations are valuable in making environmental assessments throughout the world and making positive decisi ons for the future about what can be done to improve the impact that the human population is having on the environment Wackernagel et al. 1999. In this study I examine the Ecological Footprints of communities around Monteverde, Costa Rica. The Monteve rde area is comprised of several small towns and neighborhoods. These localities include Santa Elena, the most developed portion, Cerro Plano, another developed area, Monteverde, a group of small farms and hotels near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, and San Luis and CaÃ±itas, two areas that are rural. Until the mid 1980Â€s, the Monteverde area was primarily small family farms and rural communities, but has become a tourist hub, attracting more than 250,000 people annually Rasmusson 2008. I investigate d the Ecological Footprints of indiv iduals in and around Monteverde . I compared the lifestyle and Ecological Footprints in these communities with people in Monteverde and Santa Elena and Cerro Plano, more developed, urban communities. MATERIALS AND MET HODS I calculated individual Ecological Footprints using a survey designed by the Center for Sustainable Economy http://www.myfootprint.org . The survey was translated from English to Spanish. It contains 21 qu estions that are divided into four subsections: Carbon Footprint, Food Footprint, Housing Footprint, and Goods and Services. The section on a personÂ€s Carbon Footprint assesses the impact that a person has on the environment through their transportation an d energy usage. The Food Footprint analyzes how sustainable a personÂ€s eating habits are and how sustainable the food that they eat and its production is for the environment. The Housing Footprint evaluates how the amount of land that a personÂ€s house occu pies affects the environment. In addition, this portion of the survey takes into account how sustainable the construction and upkeep of a person house is, as well as the amount of property that a person has. The last subsection, Goods and Services Footprin t, looks at where a person obtains their consumer products, as well the sustainability of producing these goods. I presented this survey to a sample of 52 people in the communities of Monteverde, San Luis, CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena, and Cerro Plano in Montever de, Costa Rica. I combined the communities of San Luis and CaÃ±itas and the communities of Santa Elena and Cerro Plano due to their close proximities and the similarity in the demographics. I visited local shops, restaurants, peopleÂ€s homes, and approached p eople on the street to request their participation in my project. The majority of the respondents were local Costa Ricans that had not emigrated from other countries. The survey was completed by 20 people from the Santa Elena and Cerro Plano, 19 people fro m San Luis and CaÃ±itas, and 13 people from Monteverde. I then entered the responses of these 52 surveys into the
online calculator at http://www.myfootprint.org . In addition to the Ecological Footprint, the calcu lation provided the number of earths required to sustain the population as if everyone lived the same way as the respondent. In addition to the questions, I added supplemental questions to take into account a personÂ€s age, level of education, and where the y are from See Appendix. The level of education was described as completing primary school, high school, or university. A personÂ€s geographical background was determined as either from Monteverde, San Luis, other areas in Costa Rica, or outside of Costa Rica. RESULTS Communities in the Monteverde area do not differ in their average Ecological Footprint San Luis/ CaÃ±itas: mean= 8.12, stdev= 13.69, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano: mean= 8.44, stdev= 6.55, Monteverde: mean= 7.04, stdev= 1.86, f = 0.995932781 a nd p value 0.376731455. Further, they do not differ in their Carbon Footprints, Food Footprints, Housing Footprints or Goods and Services Footprints Carbon Footprint: San Luis/ CaÃ±itas mean= .55, stdev= 0.24, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano mean= 1.25, stdev= 7.03, Monteverde mean= 1.17, stdev= 0.64. f= 0.916156111 and p value 0.406796556 Food Footprint: San Luis/ CaÃ±itas mean= 3.90 stdev= 1.10, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano mean= 4.13, stdev= 1.24, Monteverde mean=3.48, stdev= 1.01. f= 2.427044031 and p value 0. 098843108 Housing Footprint: San Luis/ CaÃ±itas mean= 2.64, stdev= 12.11, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano mean= 1.64, stdev= 0.76, Monteverde mean= 1.4, stdev= 0.19. f= 1.546415115 and p value 0.223225652 Goods and Services Footprint: San Luis/ CaÃ±itas mean= 1 .04, stdev= 0.15, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano mean= 1.21, stdev= 0.18, Monteverde mean= 1, stdev= 0.15. f= 1.324589596 and p value 0.275264414. These areas vary little in the impact that they have on the environment in relation to one another. Where a pers on grows up is not independent of the where that person lives in the Monteverde zone chi square = 23.87, P = 0.0005. In my sample of 19 people from San Luis/ CaÃ±itas, the majority grew up in San Luis 57.89%. In my sample of 20 people in Santa Elena/ Ce rro Plano the majority of residents were from locations outside of the Monteverde zone 65%. Likewise, the majority of the 13 people I surveyed in Monteverde are from other regions outside of Monteverde 53.85% Figure 5. A personÂ€s level of education w as independent from where a person lives chi square = 10.29487922, P = 0.112770762. Monteverde had the highest proportion of people that attended university 45.45%, in contrast to San Luis/ CaÃ±itas and Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano 15.79% and 15% respecti vely. In San Luis/ CaÃ±itas the majority of the respondents only completed primary school 57.89%, where as a considerable portion of people in Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano only completed primary school 40%. Very few people in Monteverde only finished prima ry school 18.18%. A small percentage of people from San Luis/ CaÃ±itas only completed high school 21.05%, while nearly half of the respondents from Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano and Monteverde had completed high school, not including those who attended unive rsity 45% and 54.54% respectively. The mean Ecological Footprints from San Luis/CaÃ±itas 8.12, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano 8.44, and Monteverde 7.04 were each significantly lower than the mean Ecological Footprint in Costa Rica 10.5 t stat= 6.258, p value= 0.025. The mean
Carbon Footprints from San Luis/CaÃ±itas 0.55, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano 1.25, and Monteverde 1.16 were each significantly lower than the mean Carbon Footprint in Costa Rica 3.6 t stat= 11.886, p value <0.01. The mean Foo d Footprints from San Luis/CaÃ±itas 3.90, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano 4.31, and Monteverde 3.48 were not significantly different from the mean Food Footprint in Costa Rica 3.6 t stat= 1.258, p value 0.335. Similarly, the mean Housing Footprints from S an Luis/CaÃ±itas 2.63, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano 1.64, and Monteverde 1.4 were not significantly different from the mean Housing Footprint in Costa Rica 1.8 t stat= 1.476, p value 0.278. Furthermore, The mean Goods and Services Footprints from San L uis/CaÃ±itas 1.04, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano 1.21, and Monteverde 1 were not significantly different from the mean Goods and Services Footprint in Costa Rica 1.5 t stat= 2.734, p value 0.112; Figure 1. I calculated the proportions that the Carbon Footprint, Food Footprint, Housing Footprint, and the Goods and Services Footprint comprised of the total Ecological Footprint for San Luis and CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena and Cerro Plano, and Monteverde figure 2 and 3. These results indicate the Carbon Footpr int percentage in Monteverde 17%, compared to the Carbon Footprint percentages in the other two communities San Luis/ CaÃ±itas: 7%, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano: 15%, had a greater percentage of the total Ecological Footprint. The Food Footprint comprised t he greatest portion on the Ecological Footprint in Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano 52%. The Housing Footprint was greatest in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas 32% in comparison to the other two community Housing Footprint percentages Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano = 19%, Monteve rde = 20%. The Goods and Services portion of the Ecological footprint had relatively equal proportions of the Ecological Footprint in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas Santa, Elena/ Cerro Plano and Monteverde 13%, 14%, and 14% respectively. Figure 1. Comparison of the mean Ecological Footprint, Carbon Footprint, Food Footprint, Housing Footprint, and Goods and Services Footprint in Costa Rica, San Luis/ CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano, and Monteverde. Costa Rica San Luis/ Canitas Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano Monteverde
Figure 2. Proportions of the mean Carbon Footprint, Food F ootprint, Housing Footprint, and Goods and Services Footprint within the total mean Ecological Footprint of San Luis and CaÃ±itas. % food 48% %housing 32% % goods and services 13% % carbon 7% % food %housing % goods and services % carbon
Figure 3. Proportions of the mean Carbon Footprint, Food Footprint, Housing Footprint, and Goods and Services Footprint within the tota l mean Ecological Footprint of Sant a Elena/ Cerro Plano top and Monteverde bottom. % food 52% %housing 19% % goods and services 14% % carbon 15% % food %housing % goods and services % carbon % food 49 % %housing 20 % % goods and services 14 % % carbon 17 % % food %housing % goods and services % carbon
Figure 4. Proportion of completed education levels in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas top, Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano middle and Monteverde bottom. primary school 58% high school 21% university 16% no school 5% primary school high school university no school primary school 40% high school 45% university 15% no school 0% primary school high school university no school primary school 15% high school 47% university 38% no school 0% primary school high school university no school
Figure 5. Proportion of community members from San Luis/ CaÃ±itas top, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano middle, and Monteverde bottom that grew up in Monteverde, San Luis, other places in Costa Rica, and outside Costa Rica. Monteverde 5% San Luis 58% other in CR 37% outside CR 0% Monteverde San Luis other in CR outside CR Monteverde 18% San Luis 23% other in CR 59% outside CR 0% Monteverde San Luis other in CR outside CR Monteverde 23% San Luis 0% other in CR 54% outside CR 23% Monteverde San Luis other in CR outside CR
DISC USSION My results indicate that there were not significant differences between the Ecological Footprint, Carbon Footprint, Food Footprint, Housing Footprint, and Goods and Services Footprint in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas, Santa Elena/Cerro Plano, and Monteverde. This shows that according to the calculations, people in these three communities have nearly equal on the environment. In all cases, the Food Footprint is nearly 50% of the total Ecological Footprint. This is likely, attributed to the fact that the majorit y of people who live in these three communities eat meat for every meal. This significantly impacts a personÂ€s Food Footprint due to the high impact that meat production has on the environment Marlow, H. et al. 2009. Although some of the meat that people consume in the more rural areas in these communities is literally from their backyard, raising livestock and the resources that cattle consumption requires still affect the environment negatively. The Goods and Services Footprint distribution in the Ecolo gical Footprint was also very similar in all three communities. This is most likely the case because of the rarity of purchasing unnecessary consumer goods in this area. The majority of people observed in this study would describe themselves as frugal and would only buy things when it was truly necessary. Through these comparisons, one can see how daily decisions and habits can influence a personÂ€s impact on the environment Communities differ in their Housing and Carbon Footprints. In San Luis/ CaÃ±itas the proportion of the Housing Footprint is considerably larger than the percentages in Santa Elena/Cerro Plano and Monteverde. This is most likely a result of the large land use in the more rural communities. Many of the people that live in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas h ave farms and substantial gardens. Having property significantly alters a personÂ€s Housing Footprint. In contrast, people in Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano and Monteverde live in more traditional, urban neighborhoods, in small family homes with little property. Another important difference in these proportions is the increase in Carbon Footprint percentage in Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano and Monteverde 15% and 17% respectively in contrast to the lower Carbon Footprint proportion in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas 7%. This is m ost likely due to the increase in driving and an increase in traveling in the more urban areas, whether it was solely by car, or more extensive travel, it was considerably higher in the more urban areas. This is supported by fact that of the participants, nearly 58% of the people that live in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas grew up in San Luis. In addition, 65% of people from Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano and nearly 54% of people from Monteverde were from other places in Costa Rica outside of the studied regions. This implies more traveling and use of transportation, in contrast to the people who do not leave the community that they grew up in. When looking closely at the distribution of each level of completed education, there are considerable differences between the three studied communities. While in Monteverde nearly 45% of people went to college or university, only about 15% of people in San Luis/ CaÃ±itas and Santa Elena/ Cerro Plano attended university. There is clearly a large difference between the communities in the number of people that have a higher education Jorgensen 2003. People who have higher education typically are more affluent. This supports the greater percentage of the Carbon Footprint in MonteverdeÂ€s Ecological Footprint where people that are educated a nd affluent are able to own cars and travel more frequently Jorgensen 2003.
This quiz attempts to take into account variables that are uncontrollable on an individual levee, such as the types of resources that are available like energy sources. For exa mple, it is designed based upon the country the respondent is from. However, not all factors can be accounted for, including the resources that are available to a person and other things that a person cannot control in their impact on the environment. For instance, people cannot really control the average transport of goods and the way that energy is generated. For future studies it would be interesting to look at the populations of non native residents in Monteverde. Incorporating this population into my study would have considerable effects on the total Ecological Footprints from each community. Additionally, it would be of significance to obtain a more random sample through visiting random homes in the communities. Because I frequently went to businesse s to speak with people, I did not obtain a substantial sample of people who do not work or of people that are above the age of 60. Also, a larger sample size would create a more accurate depiction of the community structure. It would be of interest to repe at this study after 10 20 years to see how the values of the Ecological Footprints have changed. It would be relevant to look at this in relation to the change in tourism and development in Monteverde. Specifically looking at how community dynamics in Mon teverde affect the environment is important in understanding how living in a rural area versus more developed regions can affect the environment. Moreover, this sheds light on how developing countries are having a big impact on global environmental change through changes in consumption patterns. As a region becomes more developed and urban, certain actions affect the environment in a more influential ways. For example, as urbanization occurs, such as Monteverde in contrast to San Luis/ CaÃ±itas, more people are driving and contributing to the increase in carbon dioxide emissions but also living in small houses on small lots. This study shows how it is not so much where a person lives, but how they live. Individual decisions made with sustainability in mind ar e vital to protecting the environment. This study illustrates how although people in Monteverde are living sustainably, as compared with the rest of the world, their impact can still be broken down into negative and positive impacts. Based upon my study, i t takes approximately 0.53 EarthÂ€s to support a typical person in Monteverde, meaning that a typical person in Monteverde is living sustainably and if everyone lived as they did, we would not be exceeding the global carrying capacity. This shows that even if people are living in sustainable ways, they can still make improvements in their daily lives to further minimize their impact on the environment. Acknowledgments I would like to thank Dr. Alan Masters for his help throughout the entire process of conducting my research and writing my paper; the entire CIEE staff; My sister Joanna for her continual help and support in my research; Scott Kosiba and Grace Huesner for their assistance in data collection; and all of the Monteverde community members tha t participated in my project.
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