Trump’s Finland forest fire claim sparks ‘rake news’ reports in Nordic nation
- US president quoted Finnish counterpart as saying garden rakes were why his country had few forest fires, despite being 70 per cent covered in trees
Social media in Finland was ablaze with bemused comments on Monday after US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors.
Speaking to reporters over the weekend while in California to see the impact of devastating forest fires, the US president blamed forest management, but said Finland had the answer.
Trump cited the Finnish president as telling him Finns “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things [in the forest] and they don’t have any problem”.
However the Nordic country’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper on Sunday he had no recollection of raking being mentioned when the pair met in Paris a week ago.
“I told him that Finland is a country covered in forests, but we also have a good warning system and network,” the president said.
Finnish social media users were quick to pile in, describing Trump’s comments as “rake news” and posting pictures of themselves brandishing the garden implement.
By late Sunday, raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation which is 72 per cent covered in forests – mainly pine, birch and fir.
Just an ordinary day in the Finnish forest ~ Ihan normipäivä suomalaisessa metsässä #Trump #forest #firesafety #raking #forestry #Finland #Finnish #CaliforniaFire #RakingAmericaGreatAgain #rakingtheforest #Suomi #haravointi #metsäpalot #rakingleaves pic.twitter.com/YOKA3D6C2K
— Pyry Luminen (@pyryluminen) November 18, 2018
Meanwhile Yrjo Niskanen, head of emergency preparedness at Finland’s national forest centre, said the US president may have been referring to the practice of removing branches and loose material left in the forest after logging.
— adam seven (@a7_FIN_SWE) November 19, 2018
But he pointed out that this is not done with a rake – and the wood is collected and used to produce energy.
“I’ve never thought before that it could be removed because of the fire risk, that’s not mentioned in any forestry manuals. It’s taken away purely for business reasons,” Niskanen told the Iltalehti newspaper.