Research conducted by Durham University shows that many people are now choosing natural or woodland burials, with the trend being most popular in Britain.
More people are deciding to be laid to rest in a natural setting - in woods, fields and meadows, in eco-friendly coffins made of wicker or cardboard. Environmental concerns about other funeral options such as cremation, as well as reconnecting with nature and earth are reasons why some people elect to have woodland burials. For others, it is down to reducing the burden on families with having to tend to traditional burial sites, as well as the higher expenses associated with traditional funerals. This is highlighted in the Cost of Dying Survey 2012.
Over 260 natural burial sites operate in Britain at present, with the first being opened in Carlisle nearly 20 years ago. The latest woodland burial site was launched last month in Durham. It is run by a non-profit community interest company, which is pledging to put any profits made back into maintaining the site, which is comprised of six burial glades.
The study was partly based on interviews with people connected to Barton Glebe burial site, near Cambridge, which is managed by the first Christian woodland burial charity, The Arbory Trust. The site is sponsored by the Church of England and is open to people of various religions.
Natural burials have emerged as an attractive option for people that come from both religious and non-religious families. The study showed that woodland burial sites are associated with less gloom and fuss than traditional graveyards, with some people preferring settings where nature takes care of things.