Centre for World Environmental History

Simon Pooley


Dr Simon Pooley
D.Phil., University of Oxford; MA, first class, Birkbeck College, University of London; MA, University of Cape Town; BA (Hons) cum laude, University of Natal.

Present Position: Lambert Lecturer in Environment (Applied Herpetology), Department of Geography, Birkbeck University of London


Research interests

Historical, cultural and ecological dimensions of environmental change; environmental history; human wildlife conflict and coexistence; crocodilian conservation; human geography; history of wildfire and research and management of fire; history and philosophy of science particularly life sciences and ecology; biodiversity and nature conservation; invasion biology; scientific expertise and indigenous knowledge; global and imperial history; commonwealth and imperial networks; land management traditions and institutions (forestry, conservation, agriculture).


Lambert Lecture in Environment (Applied Herpetology), Department of Geography, Birkbeck University of London (2016-present); Lecturer and Course Co-Director, MSc in Conservation Science, Imperial College London (2015-16); Junior Research Fellow, Imperial College London (2012-2015); AHRC Research Fellow, Imperial College London; Junior Research Fellow, St Antony’s College, University of Oxford (2010-2012); D.Phil., History, University of Oxford, 2006-2010; MA, History of Science, Medicine & Society, Birkbeck College, 2003-2005; Managing Editor and Publishing Manager, New Holland Publishers, London, 2001-2006; Editor, Managing Editor, Commissioning Editor, Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 1997-2001..

Academic awards and grants

Birkbeck/Wellcome Trust Early Career Fellowship (2017-19); TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) Environmental Humanities workshop grant to convene an interdisciplinary workshop on human-predator conflicts (2015); ESRC Impact Acceleration Award 2014): Junior Research Fellowship, Imperial College London (2012-2015); AHRC research fellowship (with Dr Andrew Mendelsohn and Prof. E.J. Milner-Gulland), 2012; Junior Research Fellowship, St Antony’s College Oxford (2010-2012); Proxime accessit award, Beit Research Scholarship competition, University of Oxford (2009); AHRC doctoral funding (2007-2009); Travel grant, St Antony's College, University of Oxford (2009); Travel grant, Royal Historical Society (2009); Beit Fund travel grants (2007/2008 and 2006/2007); Centre for Science and Development MA funding (1992-93); Human Sciences Research Council funding (1989-91).



A. Queiroz and S. Pooley, eds, Histories of Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean (Springer, 2018).

S. Pooley, South African edition of Burning Table Mountain (see below), University of Cape Town (UCT) Press (2015).

S. Pooley, Burning Table Mountain: An environmental history of fire on the Cape Peninsula (Palgrave Macmillan 2014). This was the first title in the series Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History.

W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley (ed.s), Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (White Horse Press, 2013).


S. Pooley and A.I. Queiroz, ‘Introduction: Historical Perspectives on Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean Region’, pages 1-19 in S. Pooley and A. Queiroz, eds, Histories of Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean (Springer, 2018).

S. Pooley, ‘The long and entangled history of humans and invasive introduced plants on South Africa’s Cape Peninsula,’ pages 219-260 in S. Pooley and A.I. Queiroz, eds, Histories of Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean (Springer, 2018).

S. Pooley, ‘Invasion of the Crocodiles,’ in Iain McCalman, Jodi Frawley (eds.) Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities (Routledge Environmental Humanities, March 2014).

S. Pooley, ‘No Tears for the Crocodiles: Representations of Nile Crocodiles, and the Extermination Furore in Zululand, South Africa, from 1956–8’, book chapter in W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley (ed.s), Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (White Horse Press, 2013).

W. Beinart, K. Middleton, S. Pooley, ‘Introduction’ to Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination. 

S. Pooley, ‘Fire and Loathing in the Fynbos’, book chapter in I.D. Rotherham, R.A. Lambert (ed.s), Invasive and Introduced Plants and Animals: Human Perceptions, Attitudes and Approaches to Management (Earthscan, 2011).

S. Pooley, ‘Histories of fire in South Africa’s Cape Floral Region’, in S. Mosley, G. Massard-Guilbaud (ed.s), Common Ground, Integrating the Social and Environmental in History(Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011).


2018. S. Pooley, H. Botha, X. Combrink and G. Powell. Synthesising Nile crocodile attack data and historical context to inform mitigation efforts in South Africa and eSwatini (Swaziland). Oryx (in press).

Powell, G., Versluys, T., Williams, J., Tiedt, S., Pooley, S. (2019). Using environmental niche modelling to investigate the importance of ambient temperature in human-crocodilian attack occurrence for two species of crocodilian. Oryx (in press).

2018, S. Pooley, ‘Descent with modification: critical use of historical evidence for conservation,’ Conservation Letters, 11(4): DOI: 10.1111/conl.12437.

2018, S. Pooley, ‘Speaking up for collaboration in conservation: A response to Vucetich et al. (2018) Just conservation: What is it and should we pursue it?’ Letter to the Editor. Biological Conservation, 223, 186-187.

2018, S. Pooley, ‘Fire, smoke and expertise in South Africa’s grasslands’, Environmental History, 23:1, 28-55.

2017, S. Pooley, M. Barua, W. Beinart, A. Dickman, G. Holmes, J. Lorimer, A.J. Loveridge, D.W. Macdonald, G. Marvin, S. Redpath, C. Sillero-Zubiri, A. Zimmermann and E.J. Milner-Gulland, ‘An interdisciplinary review of current and future approaches to improving human-predator relations’, Conservation Biology 31:3, 513-523.

2017, S. Redpath, J. Linnell, M. Festa-Bianchet , L. Boitani, N. Bunnefeld, A. Dickman, R. Gutiérrez, R. Irvine, M. Johansson, A. Majić, B. McMahon, S. Pooley, C. Sandström, A. Sjölander-Lindqvist , K. Skogen, J. Swenson, A. Trouwborst, J. Young, E.J. Milner-Gulland, ‘Don’t forget to look down - collaborative approaches to predator conservation,’ Biological Reviews 92:4, 2157-2163. DOI: 10.1111/brv.12326.

2016, S. Pooley, ‘A Cultural herpetology of Nile crocodiles in Africa’, Conservation & Society, 14:4, 391-405.

2016, S. Pooley, ‘The entangled relations of humans and Nile crocodiles in Africa, c.1840-1992’, Environment and History, 33:2, 421-454.

2015, S. Pooley, ‘Endangered’, Environmental Humanities, 7, 259-263.

2015, S. Pooley, ‘Using predator attack data to save lives, human and crocodilian’, Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation, 49, 581-583. doi:10.1017/S0030605315000186.

2015, S. Pooley, John E. Fa, Robert Nasi, ‘No conservation silver lining to Ebola’, Conservation Biology, 29:3, 965–967. Available through open access at:
and a letter about this article and our response were also published.

S. Pooley, J.A. Mendelssohn, E.J. Milner-Gulland, 'Hunting down the chimera of multiple disciplinarity in conservation science', Conservation Biology (2014), available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12183/pdf

S. Pooley, ‘Historians are from Venus, Ecologists are from Mars,’ a commentary on Szabó and Hédl’s paper (2011) ‘Advancing the Integration of History and Ecology for Conservation,’ Conservation Biology 27: 6 (2013), available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cobi.12106/full

S. Pooley, ‘Recovering the lost history of fire in South Africa’s fynbos, c.1910-90’, Environmental History, Vol.17 (January 2012), pp.55-83. DOI:10.1080/03057070.2010.507565

S. Pooley, Book review of Stephen Pyne’s ‘America’s Fires: A Historical Context for Policy and Practice, Environment and History,’ Environment and History, Vol.17, No.3 (2012), pp.483–485.

S. Pooley, ‘Pressed Flowers: Notions of indigenous and alien vegetation in South Africa’s Western Cape, c.1902–1945’,Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol.36, No.3 (2010), pp.599–618. This paper was selected for the inaugural ASAUK Journal Writing Workshop (2009).DOI:10.1080/03057070.2010.507565
S. Pooley, ‘Jan van Riebeeck as pioneering explorer and conservator of natural resources at the Cape of Good Hope (1652–62)’, Environment and History, Vol.15, No.1 (2009), pp.3–33.  

S. Pooley, Book review of Saul Dubow’s A Commonwealth of Knowledge: Science, Sensibility and White South Africa 1820–2000, British Journal for the History of Science, Vol.42, No.1 (2009), pp.152–154.

S. Pooley, Book review of Saul Dubow’s A Commonwealth of Knowledge, Social Dynamics, Vol.35, No.1 (2009), pp.205–210.

Affiliations and memberships

European Society for Environmental History
Centre for World Environmental History
Society for Conservation Biology
IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group
IUCN Task Force on Human Wildlife Conflict