Many Finnish citizens have been mocking President Donald Trump for claiming that they stop forest fires in their country by raking leaves.
Over the weekend, Trump claimed that Finnish President Sauli Niinistö told him that raking was the key to his country’s success in preventing forest fires, although Niinistö has denied he ever told Trump anything about raking.
“I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation,'” Trump claimed. “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.”
However, a Finnish biologist has written an email to Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo that goes into great detail about why it’s nonsensical to say that Finland is able to contain forest fires through raking.
In fact, he says that if Finland does face the prospect of greater forest fires in the coming years, climate change will be a good reason why.
“Forest fires in Finland are much limited by the snowy winter (length varies acc. to year and region, but traditionally around 3 months, is shortening due to climate change),” he writes. “Snow and ice are solid water, forests cannot burn in wintertime.”
What’s more, the biologist says that raking the forests would do more harm than good when it comes to the overall health of the trees.
“The continuously falling needles and twigs, when they decay, return important nutrients back to the forest trees,” he writes. “Removing them regularly would deprive the trees and other plants from the bulk of long-term nutrients, not to speak of the extremely complex mesh of nutrient chains of thousands of other forest organisms, from fungi and insects to birds and mammals.”