This article will give you a quick overview of how the concept and practices of Natural Burial grounds in England and across the UK have developed. It all began not very long ago at all in Cumbria. The local manager of the Carlyle cemetery noticed that there were a number of clear and obvious advantages to a natural burial that would appeal to many people. The lack of environmental impact in comparison to traditional burials was clear. The use of damaging embalming fluids, the fuel and carbon emissions from cremations, and the general cost and ecological impact which body interment resulted in, could all be eradicated quite easily through ecologically friendly burial practices.
Carlyle City Counsel then opened the first of what were to be many natural burial grounds in England and the UK. Their popularity meant that many local councils followed suit and encouraged further development of the idea as a way to reduce environmental impact of traditional cemetery burials in their regions. In addition it safeguarded additional green space for the local communities as well as satisfying the growing demand for additional and much-needed burial space.
As demand for natural burials in the UK grew, so did the number of woodland burial sites, not only from local councils but also from private companies setting up their own sites across England. The Association of Natural Burial Grounds (ANBG) was then created to promote this new concept and bring its ethos to the attention of both the wider public, and private industry. It also set up codes of practice which members agree to follow although it does not enforce membership or inspect natural burial grounds. Into the 21st century and the number of sites is well over 200. Many are run by local councils for the benefit of local residents, but there are a growing number run by charities, private businesses and also many landowners and farmers seeking to put their land to profitable use.
At present the trend for an ecologically sensitive natural burial shows no signs of slowing down. Many people today are much more aware of the impact that their burial may have on the environment and are far more willing to seek out alternatives. With the publicity work of the associated new bodies and the continuing increase in interest in this practice, there are sure to be many more natural burial grounds which open over the coming years.