Prestwold Natural Burial Ground, Leicester
The demand for alternative approaches to traditional funerals continues to grow in the UK. More than three times as many people in the UK are now cremated rather than buried and out of those that are buried, the demand for natural or green burial locations grows year-on-year. In the UK, there are now over 300 meadow or woodland burial grounds. Approximately 185 are operated by councils, 13 by trusts, and 55 owned by limited companies. The remainder are mostly on farms and estates or run by funeral directors.
And it’s not just in the UK that the demand is growing. As states in the USA relax previously restrictive legislation, a recent survey found 52% of Americans expressed interest in natural burial. Meanwhile, the number of grounds in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand continues to grow.
Epitrace Celebrates 25 years
It’s now twenty five years since Assettrac was first approached to provide a discreet and maintenance-free solution for marking natural burial plots. Assettrac now supplies over 120 sites both in the UK and abroad with thousands of its unique EPITRACE underground marker pegs. Based on the same microchip technology now widely adopted for pet and livestock identification, the marker pegs allow natural burial grounds to easily identify burial plots in the absence of traditional memorials, even decades after burial.
Every natural burial ground will have variations on what is permitted for a burial. Common features include no vertical man-made memorials or embalmed remains while there is more freedom with planning ceremonies in a natural landscape intended to have minimal human interference. Natural burial ground owners have been ahead of the public curve in terms of sustainability, often following an ethos that coffins and flat markers should be constructed from naturally occurring materials. Sites will have limited maintenance to maintain the natural landscape and sometimes native species of memorial trees are permitted. This approach is proving to be increasingly popular amid growing environmental awareness and a demand for non-religious ceremonies.
Case Study: Epitrace Reunites Loved Ones in Wooded Burial Ground
Cemetery staff at a Sussex burial ground called in the Epitrace team from Assettrac, to help them investigate grave locations as they needed to excavate for a pre-purchased plot next to a loved one. Any cemetery team would be concerned about potential interference with burials if the wrong space was excavated but luckily, these plots had been marked with Epitrace..
Despite having been implanted over 15 years ago, in a woodland area with overgrown and uneven terrain, the Epitrace team identified 5 adjacent graves with their handheld scanners. Each peg’s microchip had a unique barcode number and so the team were able to verify the numbers against the burial register and report who had been buried where and where the vacant plot was located.
Call to Action!
The Natural Burials Conference
It’s nearly ten years since the only conference dedicated to natural burials was hosted at the University of Sheffield. Both volume of burials and practice have evolved significantly since then and we’d like to encourage all interested parties to signal their support for another. It would be a great platform for the sector, not only to promote the natural burial movement but to exchange views, explore the latest research and provide advice and benchmark standards for anyone around the world considering building a business which has a lower environmental impact than traditional practices. If you’d like to add your voice for a new national burials conference, email us at email@example.com and we’ll co-ordinate a call for the return for this important event.
The Bereavement Services Portal
Are you making the most of your free entry to the Bereavement Services Portal (BSP)?
As associate members of The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, Assettrac hosts and manages the Bereavement Services Portal on their behalf at www.iccm-uk.com . Members can use the Bereavement Services Portal (BSP) on the main page to find the contact details of most operators, sites, and people in the UK cemetery and crematorium world via a county drop down list or a Google style search. All burial ground owners are entitled to a free entry in the BSP. The platform provides a second ‘window’ to advertise your services and if you’re not shown in the county search results or you need a password please let us know.