Saturday, June 20, 2009

Natural Burial Ground For Waterford?

Above is a photograph of something that is not yet available in Ireland - a Natural Burial Ground. Perhaps with the imminent development of the Citys' new graveyard at Kilbarry we have an opportunity to have one in Waterford.

During the Election Campaign I had an email on this issue and found it intriguing. I have put down a motion for debate at City Council requesting that part of the new graveyard at Kilbarry might be used for this purpose.

I am reproducing here the details of the information which was sent to me on this subject which you might be interested in:

A natural burial ground is one where instead of placing a more traditional headstone one has an option to plant a tree or a bush or simply some wild flowers. Over time a copse is created. Trees are normally planted at a ratio of one per grave and it is preferable to plant native species which reflect what is already growing in the surrounding area. Tree planting is often incorporated into significant social occasions and the tree planting could form part of the burial ceremony. In England there are now over 200 natural burial grounds and most are woodland burial grounds. Recently, a lot of attention was given to the celebrity Jade Goody who chose to be buried in Epping Forest Woodland Burial Park.

Increasingly people are looking at more environmentally sustainable alternatives to current or traditional approaches and this includes burial practices. Indeed natural burial has been one of the fastest growing environmental movements when one considers that the first natural burial ground in the UK was opened in only 1993 in Carlisle cemetery and now there are over 200.

The creation of a natural burial ground within the proposed new cemetery would offer choice to members of the public. For those who would prefer to rest in a place that embraces nature and the natural processes of death, a place where their loved ones could come to visit and enjoy, natural burial has much to offer. Those who would prefer a more conventional burial are of course also accommodated.

I understand that the cemetery is to be opened in two phases and that a wall or other structure will be erected to demarcate the areas of phases I and II. I would humbly suggest the erection of a beautiful polished wall of remembrance where families could pay to have the names of their deceased loved ones engraved at a nominal cost. Alternatively a discreet plaque could be placed on the grave with the name of the deceased.

For those seeking to remember their loved ones with a piece of art, an option could be given to allow (subject to obtaining planning permission) the commission of a piece of naturalistic sculpture or a piece of furniture such as a memorial bench which could be then used by visitors. Where concern lies around the identification of unmarked graves, electronic global positioning technologies could be used (and are used already in other natural burial grounds).

There is a lot of information on this issue on the 'net. Perhaps, dear reader, you might be kind enough to let me know what you think of this idea?


Stephen Laing said...

Mary, We can provide alot of free information on this subject, a) we supply 60 burial grounds in UK and Australia with electonic marker pegs, b) we run the UK's largest on line directory of cemeteries, crematoria, and natural burial grounds at and c) we are members of the main trade association the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. Delighted hear from you if dialogue helpful. Regards Stephen Laingm, director ASSETtrac Ltd 01403 860063,

Anonymous said...

Mary, I am a local undertakers daughter who has long been interested in the possibility of an alternative burial ground. I was delighted to see your article in the Waterford Today. You have covered most of my thoughts on the matter and how much nicer it would be for loved ones to visit a remembrance garden that they can enjoy. I have been asked by quiet a number of people about alternatives and think Waterford people will embrace the idea. I look forward to hopefully seeing it come to fruition. Kind Regards and best of luck.