November 18, 2018


Trump Says California Can Learn From Finland on Fires. Is He Right? (Patrick Kingsley, Nov. 18, 2018, NY Times)

The secret to the Finns' forest management system lies instead in its early warning system, aerial surveillance system and network of forest roads, said Professor Henrik Lindberg, a forest fires researcher at the Häme University of Applied Sciences, a college in southern Finland.

At times of high incendiary risk, the Finnish authorities are highly effective at delivering warnings across most forms of media, Mr. Lindberg said.

Local aviation clubs are paid to fly over the most threatened areas of forest, increasing the likelihood fires will be spotted before they spiral out of control. "The ignition probability is about the same as in Sweden, but they're caught quicker," Mr. Lindberg said.

And timber and paper companies have built an extensive network of roads through Finland's forests. Built primarily to make the landscape more accessible for logging, they also slow down the path of a fire -- and allow fire brigades to reach the flames faster.

"Almost all Finland is covered by this forest road network, so of course it's easier to get nearer to the forest fires using fire trucks," Mr. Ruuska said.

Temperatures in Finland, part of which lies within the Arctic Circle, can drop below minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Even in August, the temperature is usually in the mid-60s.

The incendiary risk is therefore much lower for most of the year in Finland than in California, where high temperatures, dry air and frequent wind make wildfires far more likely.

"It's not a good comparison," Mr. Ruuska said. "We have a half-meter of snow during winter, so it's quite natural that we don't have any fires over the winter, and our autumn is quite wet."

The new House will be happy to appropriate the money.

Posted by at November 18, 2018 5:38 PM


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