clad in only natural, biodegradable materials, without toxic preservative treatment and at shallower
depth, to encourage transformation by nature in the living layer of the soil.
Natural Burial Grounds vary greatly in style and approach. The common theme is they offer an area
dedicated to Natural Burial. They range from grazed meadows to memorial gardens, from existing
woodland to land now dedicated to becoming new woodland, from nature reserves within towns to
wild, open country. Ideally each should have a sustainable plan for the long-term future.
Many of us can relate to the idea of being returned to the earth when we die – a bit of gentle
recycling. Others are inspired by a reaction to what they don’t want – the industrialisation of death,
a religious service, or a formal set piece ceremony. Most like the idea that they will not burden the
next generation with a grave to tend. The simplicity and ‘no-fuss’ surrounding natural burial appeals
too. Natural burial grounds offer an informal setting with more time, more space and more meaning;
they are growing in popularity as more people experience this alternative.
All grave locations are plotted and recorded, but the ‘eco-friendly’ stance of natural burial grounds
varies widely. Some allow memorials on the graves, benches and vases; they accept embalmed
bodies, plastic-lined and chipboard coffins. Others are dedicated to preserving the landscape and
maintaining a sustainable future for the land after the income from burials comes to an end – and
may adopt a genuinely environmentally responsible approach.
Although the number of natural burial grounds is increasing every year, the closest might be further
away than your local cemetery, so think about whether the distance of getting there and back is
important to you. For many, the knowledge that the land management takes care of the grave and
that person buried there would appreciate being there means fewer visits are made.
If you like the idea of natural burial, why not call a few operators and visit them ahead of time –
perhaps at different times of the year to see what they feel like through the seasons. Then you can
be sure of finding a site to suit you and your family.
- When choosing a burial ground, ask how the land will be managed in the future and how that will
environmentally sustainable plan for the future.
- If you like the idea of being buried somewhere natural or beautiful where family can visit, why not