Sara E. Cannon, PhD

Aquatic Conservation Scientist

Decolonizing Conservation Reading List (Version 2.0)

In 2019, I started a reading list about the colonial roots of conservation. This list was originally for my comprehensive exams, but I realized it might be a resource that others could use after I randomly shared it on Twitter during a discussion about colonial conservation and it was retweeted hundreds of times. This inspired me to write the original blog post and to tailor the list to a specific audience, non-Indigenous folks working in biodiversity conservation, to provide a starting place for educating ourselves on the colonial, white supremacist, and imperialist roots of biodiversity conservation.

Since then, the reading list been shared by thousands, referenced in news articles and publications, informed classroom curricula around the world, and translated into two additional languages (French and Spanish, thanks to Marine Gauthier and twitter user @agrohacker). More and more people have used the list as a resource, which I hope is the result of an increasing number of my fellow non-Indigenous conservation scientists and practitioners becoming aware of the harmful tendency for conservation to reproduce colonialism. This is also resulting in a growing number of publications challenging colonial approaches to biodiversity conservation. While a good problem to have, this has made keeping up with updating the list a bit unruly.

Given this, I’ve decided to migrate the Reading List to a new platform, and I will no longer be updating the original google document (although I will keep the previous version publicly available online). Instead, I’m now keeping the reading list on Notion, which has a few benefits. First, the Notion database is linked to my Zotero library, which makes it much easier to add and update readings. Second, readers can now sort and filter the reading list. By default, I’ve grouped the readings by topic, similarly to what I did with the original reading list. I’ve also added a view by region/continent, which allows readers to search by their study regions, and also allows me to make sure I’ve not inadvertently over- or under-represented certain regions compared to others.

Please continue to send recommended readings and resources to me at, especially if they were prepared by or in partnership with Indigenous folks. Centering Indigenous voices is integral, because decolonizing conservation (and decolonization more broadly) cannot happen without Indigenous leadership. That is not to say that settlers and non-Indigenous folks do not have an important role to play; I feel strongly that we have a responsibility to take on some of the labour to support decolonization. I hope that this reading list will give non-Indigenous and settler conservation scientists and practitioners a place to start

Suggested Citation: Cannon, Sara E. (2019). Decolonizing Conservation: A Reading List. Zenodo.


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