The Finnish president Sauli Niinistö doesn’t recall discussing about ”raking leaves” with president Donald Trump. However he does confirm they talked about the California wildfires when meeting shortly in Paris last weekend.
– I mentioned him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network, Niinistö says to Ilta-Sanomat on Sunday morning and recalls adding the phrase ”we take care of our forests.”
– However, raking wasn’t brough up in the conversation, Niinistö corrects.
Donald Trump complimented the forestry management of Finland when visiting the wildfire disaster zone in Northern California.
In a press conference on Saturday Trump said Finland doesn’t have same problem because “they spend a lot of time on raking” leaves. He told he discussed about the issue with Sauli Niinistö.
– You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important. You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story, Trump said according to Newsweek.
– I was with the president of Finland and he said, ”We have a much different – we're a forest nation.” He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don't have any problem, Trump then continued.
Niinistö’s emphasis on the Arctic Strategy of Finland
President Niinistö reckons raking perhaps came to Trump’s mind after seeing the firefighters raking the burned-down areas in California.
According to the Finnish president he intended to tell that although Finland is covered by forests, they are well monitored, which is why Finland has managed to avoid disastrous forest fires.
– It’s a matter of Finland’s Strategy for the Arctic Region that includes the prevention of forest fires, for they also produce black carbon, Niinistö says.
Finland is aiming to be at the forefront of cutting back on black carbon emissions and Niinistö raised the issue also last July when meeting with Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
Finland holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2017–2019. Lately there has been talk about the potential Arctic Summit to be held in Helsinki with the leaders of the United States and Russia.
Niinistö commends the voluntary fire brigades, which are very important part of Finland’s fire and rescue services and mentions the significance of forest road network.
The dense forest road network of 120,000 kilometres constructed for the use of forestry and cottage owners slows down the spreading of the fire while making the remote areas more accessible to firefighters and other rescue personnel.
Expert: ”Raking isn’t any kind of sylvicultural measure”
Finns themselves have been slightly amused by Trump’s forestry hints. Amused is also the Forestry Director of the Finnish Forest Association Heikki Savolainen who tells Ilta-Sanomat that raking isn’t any kind of sylvicultural measure.
– Those statements were very interesting. I see raking only in my own yard. It belongs to yards and parks, Savolainen says.
Savolainen believes Trump may have confused raking with thinning, in which one third or even half of the trees are cut. It reduces the fire load and increases the vitality of the forest.
According to Savolainen the forests of California and Finland cannot be directly compared because of the climate differences. For example the temperatures, drought periods and wind velocity are completely different. Also the lakes, rivers and peat soil are natural fire obstacles in Finland.
Twitter users have obviously well noted Trump’s comments.
– Tonight Finland was raked to the world map, one user writes.
– The secret weapon of Finnish forestry: raking, writes a Finnish MP Jyrki Kasvi.
The Twitter users also reminded about the climate difference between California and Finland.