Field Trip 04: Sunbird stepping stones – a skip through Ingcungcu’s school gardens

Ingcungcu Sunbird Restoration aims to heal the relationship between plants and birds and people. Our vision is to link the Table Mountain National Park with the Boland Mountains via a series of indigenous pollinator gardens, restoring the migration routes of nectar-feeding birds across the densely urbanized Cape Flats in Cape Town. By planting indigenous gardens of carefully selected nectar-rich species at strategically located schools and community centres, these gardens are stepping stones in an ecological corridor which links the isolated patches of critically endangered lowland vegetation that remain on the Cape Flats, and reconnects them to the surrounding mountain ranges.

Ingcungcu is currently working with nine schools in Cape Town where we are planting indigenous fynbos gardens of nectar-rich plants to provide ‘filling stations’ for birds and outdoor classrooms for students. By engaging students in all aspects of the initiative we aim to foster a link between previously disadvantaged urban children and their broader natural environment.

Long-term monitoring is key to measuring the success of these gardens. We currently have 7 years of bird (abundance and diversity) and flower (abundance) data which forms an integral part of the scientific research that underpins our work. 

On this virtual field trip we will visit a few of the established Ingcungcu gardens, see what is in flower and hopefully catch a glimpse of some local resident fauna and the key pollinators who visit these gardens. Curious about what these gardens look like? Jump in as we skip through and explore the diversity of these stepping stones!



Ceinwen Smith

Ceinwen is a marine scientist by training, a curious explorer by nature and an educator at heart. She has a foot in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems and her interests lie in ecology, functional diversity, plant observation, phenomenology, and our connection to nature. In 2017, Ceinwen joined the Ingcungcu team and currently coordinates all aspects of the initiative by engaging with teachers, learners, research partners and collaborators. She is passionate about working with learners, teachers, artists and local medicinal healers to continue developing the gardens as living classrooms and tiny sanctuaries amidst the urban sprawl.