Trees occupied centre stage during a wildly fluctuating year for wildlife. They are vital to life on Earth offering homes to birds, mammals and insects and protecting humans from pollution.

I wrote about cases where wealthy homeowners cut down decades-old, protected trees to improve views from their luxury homes. They were fined but this illegal felling should be punished in 2020 by lengthy prison sentences too.

Bungling councils are often at fault. The News Shopper reported recently how Berwick Crescent, Sidcup, residents complained about council workmen demolishing trees in their road.

Wild Things: The importance of bringing a bird guide

Photographs showed trees reduced to stumps less than a foot high. A council spokesman claimed they needed pruning. If this is the council spokesman’s idea of pruning thank goodness he’s not my dentist.

News Shopper:

Nuthatch by Tony Dunstan

In 2019 chainsaws ruled. Workers acting for Reading council mistakenly chopped down 800 trees donated by the Woodland Trust and Sheffield Council approved felling of 17,000 street trees. The Queen sanctioned demolition of a dozen mighty oaks in Windsor Park. We must place much higher value on our trees with the European Red List revealing two fifths of our 454 native species are endangered.

Sadly, protected badgers continued being culled despite a report in the journal eLife concluding that cattle are far more likely to catch TB from each other.

Wild Things: A special chapter in birdwatching

On the plus side, the reedbed dwelling Bittern enjoyed its best year with 189 males spotted at 89 sites just 22 years after only 11 males were located. White Storks and White tailed Eagles were re-introduced to southern counties with one of the latter tracked over Dartford but too high to be seen. A Clifden Nonpareil moth was found after being thought extinct for 50 years.

But we must be vigilant and diligent in protecting our wildlife. The past five years have been five of the warmest recorded so its hats off to climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg for trying to make politicians confront the problem.

I hope it’s a happy New Year for all readers and our wildlife too. My thanks to Jim Butler and Tony Dunstan for their photographic contributions last year. I asked them to submit their favourite picture taken in 2019 and they appear here.