Exciting news – Natural burial ground approved in West Dorset

19th June 2020#dorset-downs#leedam
Exciting news –  Natural burial ground approved in West Dorset

Sarah Wickham

Marketing Coordinator/Landowner

Congratulations to our newest landowners

Jeremy and Tessa, our latest landowner partners have received planning for their natural burial ground in Dorset. The burial ground is just west of Dorchester has just received planning approval. It has taken a while to go through but we are excited to see this new site take shape.

Located on top of the downs above Compton Valence, the new natural burial ground will serve the population of Dorchester, Weymouth, Bridport and rural communities within the West Dorset area.

The field will be taken out of arable cultivation and will be re-seeded with a wildflower-rich mix to create permanent downland pasture,” said landowner, Jeremy Russell. “This will return it to the way it was, before it was ploughed up after the last war in the drive for more food…Restoring locally distinctive landscape.

The restoration of the locally distinctive landscape is a key priority within this part of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We are fortunate that the neighbouring area of Special Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) is also part of the farm. We hope that over time this will gradually help populate the restored area with indigenous wild plants and insects. The hedges that will be planted, will help encourage wildlife and should give shelter to the reborn downland.”

The NBG will be managed in the same way as the SNCI. By sharing the livestock that grazes the SNCI land to the north, the seed bank of flora from the ancient grassland will gradually spread and populate the regenerated pasture. This close partnership between the two pieces of land is advantageous to the downland restoration and could over time extend the designation.

James Leedam, director of Leedam Natural Heritage who will co-manage the burial ground, said “We are delighted that this scheme now has approval. It has special meaning for me, as my aunt, Elizabeth Leedam, who inspired me to follow this path, lived locally in Preston. This, our tenth natural burial ground, is a fine tribute to her.”

Our ethos is to keep things simple, natural and beautiful. The burial ground is open to people of all backgrounds, all faiths and none – it offers an alternative for people who don’t align themselves with any particular religion and provides a place for partners with different religions or beliefs to be at rest together.

The environmental case for this type of natural burial is strong. It locks away the 18% of carbon in our bodies, as well as the carbon contained in the coffin and linings, which otherwise flow out of the crematorium chimney into the atmosphere, together with CO2 from the fossil fuel used for incineration. Natural burial also nullifies the production of particulates and noxious gases that result from cremation. The new natural burial ground, its grassland, trees and new hedges will connect green spaces to create wildlife corridors and enable species movement. This produces richer, more resilient biodiversity in the face of a changing climate.

For further details visit our location page for Dorset Downs.