What is conservation burial?
July 12th, 2020
Here is a a definition from one of my favorite cemeteries in the world, Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery:
Natural (or “green”) burial is a safe and legal burial practice that uses biodegradable containers and avoids embalming fluids and vaults. Conservation burial goes a step further to commit burial fees to pay for land acquisition, protection, restoration, and management.
Not only does conservation burial help protect land, but the burial area becomes hallowed ground, restored to its natural condition and protected forever with a conservation easement. Native plants beautify the burial sites. Citizens who support conservation are offered a more meaningful burial option with the certainty that protected land is the ultimate legacy to leave for future generations. Families and friends are brought closer to nature in the commemoration of their loved one’s life.
I call conservation burial “chaining yourself to a tree post mortem,” not allowing development on the land where your corpse rests.
August 19th, 2020
Conservation Burial is an environmentally friendly business approach to natural burial. It takes all of what is good about natural burial and adds an active model for the future preservation of the natural environment of an area. The idea is that a parcel of land is purchased and a portion of that land is operated as a natural burial ground. The profit from those burials goes towards the preservation of the land and enters into a program of strategic land acquisition, ultimately creating wildlife corridors for native flora and fauna.
Conservation burial was pioneered by Dr. Billy and Kimberly Campbell in South Carolina and their cemetery, Ramsey Creek Preserve, was a world first.
They have adopted a very minimal approach in terms of human intervention with nature when the preserve experiences natural changes – such as a tree falling – as much as practical the land is left as it is. They have a chapel on site and various walking tracks, people are encouraged to experience the site and select their own place if that is their wish but the preservation of the land and environment is paramount. Dr. Campbell has done a lot of work looking at best practice standards for how to prepare a natural burial grave (for example not severing the root of a tree but pinning them and releasing them again as the grave is filled) and the best way and what to use, such as greenery or compost materials, when backfilling that grave.
I like to think of Conservation Burial as the way of the future.