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What is a natural burial?

Environmentally friendly burials

Natural burials are emerging as a popular alternative to traditional burials and cremation. Here, we look at what natural burials, or woodland burials, are, how much they cost and how they differ from more mainstream options.

Natural burials, also known as woodland or green burials, aim to return the body to the earth in the most environmentally friendly way possible. The body is wrapped in a shroud or placed in an eco-friendly coffin, then buried in a natural burial ground – a site dedicated to conservation.

Why are they environmentally friendly?

The idea is your body feeds the soil and everything that grows from it, helping to create and preserve natural habitats for plants and animals. The sites are protected so they remain wild spaces dedicated to nature.

Where are the sites?

Natural burial grounds can be found all over the UK. There is a woodland burial site at Oystermouth Cemetery in Swansea.

Can I mark the grave?

Many natural burial sites do not allow you to mark the grave with a headstone or other permanent memorial. One of the ideals of the movement is that the grounds are not visually recognisable as burial sites; instead, the natural beauty of the site honours the person’s memory.

Oystermouth  does allow small flat wooden marker.

How much does it cost?

Natural burial costs vary depending on how many optional extras you choose, but they are typically much cheaper than traditional burials or cremation, which cost £3,5000 on average. A plot at a Oystermouth costs £1010.

Are natural burials less expensive?

Eco-friendly coffins are generally made from cardboard, wicker, bamboo or willow and cost as little as £250. Optional extras, such as the planting of a memorial tree at the grave, or a small inscribed stone to mark the burial spot, also add to the total cost.

If you choose to have a funeral service alongside your natural burial, bear in mind the additional costs for the funeral director, venue, death notices,  flowers and catering.

Are there any other restrictions?

Natural burial sites do not allow embalming, as the chemicals used make their way into the ecosystem.

Plan ahead

If you would like a natural burial, consider taking out a pre-paid funeral plan. This will allow you to plan the funeral you want and inform family and friends of your wishes. This can be particularly useful if you want something that varies from a traditional burial or cremation, such as a natural burial. It also locks in the funeral director’s fees at today’s prices. 

For more on woodland burials visit www.john-edwards-funerals.co.uk/woodland-burials-swansea/