How Does Finland Really Manage its Forests?


Jason M.



When natural disasters such as California wildfires bring tragic loss of life and land with them, people would expect solace— especially from the president of the United States. However, Californians got a different response from President Donald Trump when he toured what the wildfires left behind in Northern California. People received a strange statement: “I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation, and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning received and doing things. And they don’t have any problem. Or what it is it’s a small problem.” and “You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of forests, it’s very important.”

This bizarre statement drew ridicule from many people around the world. This statement was directed to the Californian wildfires that only left destruction behind. However, among Finns, people acted to Trump’s comment that California’s wildfires could have been prevented by wildfires with #haravointo (meaning raking in Finnish). The hashtag quickly spread around the internet with Finns posting mock photos of themselves raking leaves in the forest.

California’s wildfires would not have been prevented by simply raking the forests. In fact, Finland’s location in Northern Europe, couldn’t be any more different from California. Unlike California, Finland has approximately a third of its territory in the Arctic Circle which means it is cold and wet. Finland also has a landscape that are natural barriers to fire such as large bodies of water.

After Trump’s comment, Finnish media contacted Sauli Niinisto, president of Finland, looking for clarification if Niinisto discussed with Trump of a national forest-raking program. Apparently, Niinisto thought Trump referred to a conversation the two of them had in Paris where the ceremonies were performed marking the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I armistice. The Finnish president explained that Finland had an elaborate forest management program as the country is covered in forests also saying “We take care of our forests” and said that the topic of raking never came up.

The differences to California’s vulnerability and Finland’s resistance to fires is the key factor of weather. It is predicted that the days that Finland will have a wildfire will increase by just 10% by 2100 compared to predicted estimates of California’s wildfires will burn nearly 80% in more areas as soon as 2050. Perhaps, the most surprising fact is that California has lost half of its large trees whereas Northern Europe has become greener then what it looked like 100 years ago. This is surprising as humanity’s need for resources has never been greater.

California is facing a climate-change challenge far larger than what it can solve itself. It is still an issue as Californians don’t know how or when there will be a solution to end the deadly fires that happen much too often every year.