Natural burial explained

The term natural burial is used to describe the burial of human remains on a site where the burial plot will create or preserve a haven for wildlife.

Although human remains have been disposed of in this manner on heaths and moors and woodland since ancient times, natural burial has only recently become an increasingly popular alternative to burial in a cemetery or cremation.

First natural burial ground

In the UK the first natural burial ground, a woodland site, was opened by Carlisle City Council in 1993 on an unused part of its municipal cemetery.

Since then public interest in natural burial has grown to the point that there are now over 280 natural burial grounds which are open for burials and more are planned.  Many of these are owned by local councils and others by private operators.

Growing interest globally

Natural burial is also of growing interest elsewhere in the world. In the USA the first natural burial ground was opened in South Carolina in 1998, and natural burial grounds are now in operation or planned in eighteen States, including California, Texas, Ohio, New York and Maine.

In Canada one site has been opened in British Colombia. In Australia one site is in operation and four more are planned, and in New Zealand two sites are in operation and more are planned.

Environmentally friendly

At the outset natural burial, or green burial as it is sometimes termed, was seen as an environmentally friendly way of disposing of a human body, the aim being to allow the body to decompose naturally and quickly on land where its decay would contribute to the regeneration of plants and wildlife.

Accordingly it was held that after death the body should not be treated with chemical preservatives or disinfectants and that it should be buried in a bio-degradable coffin or a shroud.

This has remained the view of many who opt for natural burial, but there are others for whom these environmental requirements are less important and who choose a natural burial site because it is a place where the remains of the departed will rest in peace in pleasant and tranquil surroundings.

This after all has been the wish of many people down the centuries, and sadly it is a choice which is no longer available to those who live in our crowded towns and cities.

Natural burial is also seen as an environmentally friendly and inexpensive alternative to both conventional burial in a cemetery and cremation.

Reserving a plot

In general the cost of reserving a grave in a burial ground is less than in a cemetery, and if a family wishes to make its own arrangements it is possible to avoid the expense of a funeral director.

A natural burial also has the advantage that it is not subject to the time constraints of a cremation, where the family and mourners are often prone to feel that they are on a production line.

Please note

The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.