Bush grave … The green alternative
Celebrating the life of a loved one and providing a bushland setting for the final resting place is a growing trend in our society. Many people today have embraced this concept as an alternative to traditional funerals. The first “woodland” burial site was opened in England in 1993 and since then the idea has spread across the world and now there are a number of natural burial sites available in Australia.
So what are the benefits of a Natural Burial and how does it work?
A full graveside service can still be conducted, but in a tranquil bushland setting devoid of headstones, grave markers and flower holders. Instead of these man-made distractions, plants and trees are planted and the location of the deceased becomes a pleasant, environmentally-safe place for the family to visit. The body of the deceased is buried in a biodegradable shroud (made of cotton, linen, wool or natural fibre) or an environmentally-friendly coffin (untreated pine, wicker or jute). It comes to the site free of embalming or any other mortuary chemicals, thus not inhibiting the decomposition and allowing the body to recycle naturally.
Wirra Wonga, located at Enfield Memorial Park, and Pilyu Yarta located at Smithfield Memorial Park are South Australia’s natural burial areas and they provide for both single and companion burials in a lovely bushland setting. Although there is no physical identification at the site of the interment, accurate plotting and recording is undertaken to ensure ease of locating both now, and for future generations. A 99 year lease is available for each site. Environmental impacts are lessened as much as possible with all sites being of single depth (3 foot deep) which ensures maximum contact with the microbial decomposers. Also, the soil removed during excavation is retained adjacent to the grave so as to lessen the impact on the surrounding area and to be ready for backfill. Pesticides and herbicides are not used and the natural bushland setting is allowed to flourish with a limited amount of garden maintenance.
A natural bushland burial has much to recommend it including the reduction in greenhouse gases, the marked reduction in water usage, and it also impacts on the whole site’s ability to regenerate the natural habitat of the area. This in turn can lead to the resurgence of birds and other wildlife. The natural bushland appeal is maintained and cultivated using plants that are indigenous to the area and in time the bushland becomes a living and lasting natural commemoration of the loved ones buried there.