Burning Table Mountain

An Environmental History of Fire on the Cape Peninsula

  • Simon Pooley

Part of the Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History book series (PSWEH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction

    1. Simon Pooley
      Pages 1-11
  3. Fire at the Cape from Prehistory to 1900

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
  4. Fynbos, Fire Research and Management, c.1900–99

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 45-45
  5. Fire on the Cape Peninsula, 1900–2000

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 115-115
    2. Simon Pooley
      Pages 135-161
    3. Simon Pooley
      Pages 162-183
    4. Simon Pooley
      Pages 197-229
  6. Conclusion

    1. Simon Pooley
      Pages 230-235
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 236-315

About this book


Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain and the surrounding peninsula has been a crucible for attempts to integrate the social and ecological dimensions of wild fire. This environmental history of humans and wildfire outlines these interactions from the practices of Khoikhoi herders to the conflagrations of January 2000. The region's unique, famously diverse fynbos vegetation has been transformed since European colonial settlement, through urbanisation and biological modifications, both intentional (forestry) and unintentional (biological invasions). In all the diverse visions people have formed for Table Mountain, aesthetic and utilitarian, fire has been regarded as a central problem. This book shows how scientific understandings of fire in fynbos developed slowly in the face of strong prejudices. Human impacts were intensified in the twentieth century, which provides the temporal focus for the book. The disjunctures between popular perception, expert knowledge, policy and management are explored, and the book supplements existing short-term scientific data with proxies on fire incidence trends recovered from historical records.


Environmental history Table Mountain Cape Peninsula transnational history South African history history of science fynbos fire nature conservation South Africa biological invasions Europe history population settlement Urbanisation

Authors and affiliations

  • Simon Pooley
    • 1
  1. 1.Imperial College LondonUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2014
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Palgrave History Collection
  • Print ISBN 978-1-349-49059-2
  • Online ISBN 978-1-137-41544-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site