According to Politico, the president of Finland is racking his brain for any memory of a discussion with Donald Trump about raking forest floors, but isn’t having much luck.
On Saturday, Trump said Finnish President Sauli Niinisto had told him that raking leaves in his country was a form of forest management, with the implication being that it helped avoid the issue of rampant wildfires that are a major problem in the western U.S.
But Niinistö had a different recollection about the conversation about forest management on Nov. 11 while they were both in Paris.
“I mentioned to him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network,” Niinisto told Ilta-Sanomat, the country’s second-largest newspaper, on Sunday. “We take care of our forests.”
Niinisto said they talked about California’s blazes, as well as how how Finland — a country of 5.5 million — uses a special surveillance system to monitor its forest. Forests cover more than 70 percent of Finland’s 338,000 square kilometers.
Speaking to reporters in Northern California on Saturday, Trump said, “You look at other countries where they do it differently, and it’s a whole different story.”
The Camp Fire in Northern California has killed at least 76 people and nearly 1,300 more are missing or unaccounted for. The deadliest in the state’s history, it is only 55 percent contained after burning more than 230 square miles and destroying nearly 10,000 homes. Fires have also devastated parts of Southern California.
“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,” Trump said while standing alongside Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom in Paradise.
“And they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem. So I know everybody’s looking at that to that end. And it’s going to work out, it’s going to work out well,” Trump added.
Asked by reporters whether his visit to the charred areas changed his mind on climate change, Trump said there were a “lot of factors” to blame. “No. No. I have a strong opinion: I want great climate. We’re going to have that and we’re going to have forests that are very safe,” he said.
Trump was widely criticized for a tweet in which he widely blamed the California wildfires on forest mismanagement.
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump wrote in a Nov. 10 Twitter post. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2018