Step 2: Assess and imagine

Social assessment

Before starting a garden, particularly in a public space, it is important to understand the social context in which you are working. We recommend two options for this:

Option 1: Simply assess the current social value of the site, access and uses. Aim to understand why it is valued by different users. Do a local social needs analysis and ask around to understand current social challenges.

Option 2: Fill out the Social Benefits Wheel below, set your goals, and track your progress over the years.

Social benefits wheel

Social Benefits Wheel, from Society of Ecological Restoration, International Standards and Principles of Ecological Restoration

Why are the social and ecological wheels important?

  • By filling this out, you will be thinking in a wider social way about your garden, and you might discover social needs and other important elements you did not think about before.
  • You will be forced to define your own priorities, which is good for focused efforts.
  • By setting (and sharing) priorities, you/we can link your garden to people with similar priorities, allowing you to learn from and together with like-minded people.

How to fill out this wheel:

  • This wheel is supported by an international community of practitioners. It was developed by the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER).
  • In order to understand what each segment means and how to score it, please use the documentation provided by SER:
  • The full restoration standards (scientific paper) where the wheel is explained
  • Free online course about ecological restoration
  • Page with relevant resources

Ecological needs of your site

In order to understand the ecological needs of your site, go through the following steps:

  1. Find out the historical vegetation type and reference ecosystem for it.
  2. Find the closest natural remnant or green space.
  3. Describe current vegetation cover and structure, and create a species list of existing plants.
  4. Do a quick wildlife survey.
  5. Describe current conditions: soil type and contamination, water levels and flows, dumping, erosion, impact of activities in and surrounding the site.
  6. Find where your site fits on the restorative continuum and set a realistic level of recovery.

Ecological benefits wheel

Ecological Recovery Wheel, from Society of Ecological Restoration, International Standards and Principles of Ecological Restoration

Restoration continuum

How to fill out this wheel:

  • This wheel is supported by an international community of practitioners. It was developed by the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER).
  • In order to understand what each segment means and how to score it, please use the documentation provided by SER:
  • The full restoration standards (scientific paper) where the wheel is explained
  • Free online course about ecological restoration
  • Page with relevant resources

Vision and mission

With local officials, users and neighbours, define a problem statement and create a combined social and ecological mission and vision. Use the outcomes from the social and ecological assessment as a starting point.

Workshop an integrated social and ecological vision and mission for your site

Useful workshopping tools and references: How to facilitate a team vision workshop

This is your first opportunity to start building alliances within your site community. Consider the following tools to facilitate understanding the problems and working with social divides in your area:

It is important to integrate the social and ecological challenges and understand how they are interlinked with one another. What are their root causes? Use intersectionality as a way to consider the social and ecological issues at once.

Our strategy document

Learn more about this topic in our fynbos corridor strategy document!

A community-focused strategy to increase socio-ecological connectivity in Cape Town. This strategy takes you from the basics of understanding what Fynbos is to prioritising where to work. It includes a step-by-step guide towards rehabilitation of stepping-stone gardens.

Download document (PDF)