14 | North America and Europe (NAE) Report

(310 and 303 x 106ha respectively). The forests continue to support indigenous cultures, including 80% of indigenous Canadians and 26 distinct peoples in Siberia (Taiga Rescue Network, 2007), along with populations of large mammals including moose, caribou and the extremely rare Siberian tiger. Further south of the coniferous forests, the climate is milder, suitable for a natural vegetation of broadleaved woodland where rainfall is high enough; scrub, grassland and desert elsewhere. In the absence of people, much of Eu­rope west of the Black Sea and much of the US east of the Great Plains would have been forested. There remains very little European forest in its primeval state, most having been cleared or transformed by management by the 1500s. De­forestation took place much later in America. Most of the US east of the Mississippi was covered by virgin forest in 1650, with large tracts remaining 200 years later; now only fragments survive.  Across NAE, most remaining forests have been transformed by management aimed at increasing productivity of timber. Conflicts between commercial, en­vironmental and indigenous interests have sharpened in re­cent decades and in some areas forests are now managed to provide multiple functions, including leisure, fuel and pro­vision of forest foods (FAO, 2006). Rates of wood removal have been more or less constant during 1990-2005 (FAO, 2006). The industry now provides livelihoods for three mil­lion people in Europe.

1.4.3 Agrifood systems The development of agrifood systems to 1945

Eurasian agriculture began in southwest Asia around 9,000 BC with the deliberate cultivation of emmer and einkorn wheat. Crops were typically small-seeded (e.g., wheat, len­tils), grown with the use of plows. Most farm animals were domesticated in central and southwest Asia, except for the horse in the Caucasus and the pig in China (Solbrig and Solbrig, 1994). As arable agriculture spread north and west across Europe, forests and scrub were cleared by felling or fire to make way for complex farming and forestry systems to provide food, fiber, fuel and other products. Crop rota­tion systems were developed to manage crop nutrition and diseases.  Terracing, irrigation,  drainage  and flood plain management were used to manage water availability, while woodland edges were retained as hedgerows and lines of trees to provide barriers to livestock, animal shelter and ad­ditional food resources. The resulting mosaics of woodland, crops, grasslands and heaths created landscapes now highly valued for their biodiversity, cultural heritage and beauty. Farther east, nomadic societies developed that herded do­mesticated animals for meat, milk, hides and transport.

     Agriculture developed independently in the Americas, with cropping of maize, squash and beans, sown with the help of a hoe and digging stick; plows were unknown until the arrival of the Spaniards. Cropping supplemented hunt­ing and gathering for a population of around ten million in what is now the US in the late 15th century. The coloniza­tion of North America from Europe involved the import of farming systems, their crops and animals, and the introduc­tion of some American plant species into Europe. This "Co­lumbian exchange" resulted in the introduction of whole ecosystems to America, including pests, weeds and diseases,


transforming indigenous habitats (Crosby, 1986) and sub­jecting the indigenous populations of the Americas to new diseases (Diamond, 1997). The much-reduced indigenous peoples were pushed to the margins of productive land or forcibly assimilated.

     By the early 19th century, small-scale, mixed farming had developed in ways that had much in common across the region, providing farming families and local communities with food, fiber, animal feed and fuel. The genetic diversity of cropped species was maintained by adaptation to local conditions and selection by farmers, giving rise to many land-races of plant and animal species. Gathered (non-cropped) plants and hunted animals remained important in the diet until populations became urbanized.

     Trade and exchange of agricultural produce has taken place for millennia, in both commodities (e.g., the import of grain from North Africa by the Roman Empire) and luxury goods (e.g., the medieval spice trade). The scale increased dramatically in the 19th and 20th centuries, thanks to devel­opments in transport and refrigeration. Goods, capital and labor flowed freely between western Europe, North America and many other parts of the world as benefits of competition were considered to outweigh those of protecting markets.

     In western Europe, profitability was sought through in­creases in production and labor efficiency, and developed through the increasing application of science and technol­ogy to breeding, fertilization and mechanization. The steppe areas of eastern Europe and the Great Plains of the US were brought into agricultural production for ranching and cereal cropping supported by irrigation. The rate of change was far slower in eastern Europe, where much land remained in the hands of peasants and former serfs. In the early years of the Soviet Union, all aspects of agricultural production and science development were influenced by the centralized administrative-command system. Collectivization began in mid-1918, and by 1940 as much as 97% of peasant hold­ings had been merged into kolkhozes.

     Western  agriculture  fell  into   depression  during the 1930s; and in the US, cropped lands recently converted from prairies were struck with drought, degrading the land and creating the "dust bowl". Resulting poverty displaced hun­dreds of thousands of rural families from Oklahoma. Agrifood systems post 1945

Many traditional agrifood systems were localized; food, fuel and fiber were consumed close to the point of pro­duction. In the second half of the 20th century, these frag­mented agrifood systems became increasingly integrated so that global value chains based on the international trade of commodities now dominate the region. The axes used to develop scenarios in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2003) are reflected in the contrasts between agrifood systems that are globally integrated and fragmented, and between those that are responsive to multifunctional signals or primarily to economic signals.

Fragmented agrifood systems, responsive to economic sig­nals. Dependence on hunter-gathering for food is now re­stricted to very small numbers of people, almost entirely in polar and forest regions, though hunting, fishing and gather­ing natural products from forests is of high economic value,