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Trend for natural burials grows rapidly in West

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 04, 2012

A natural burial site at Corscombe in South Somerset

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More people than ever are choosing to be naturally buried, an academic study has revealed.

Dr Hannah Rumble, from the University of Bath, carried out research which suggests Britain is leading the way when it comes to natural burials.

In June a new burial site opened in Bath, taking the country’s total to more than 260, with around 30 of those found in the West Country.

The first site in Britain opened in Carlisle, Cumbria, almost 20 years ago. Now each year an average of over 7,000 people choose natural or woodland burials, where bodies are buried in a woodland setting, field or meadow in wicker, cardboard or other ecologically sound coffins.

The research, in collaboration with Durham University, showed natural burial appeals to both atheists and people with religious beliefs.

“What is interesting is that natural or woodland burial appeals to people of all faiths and none. It isn’t a fad for secularists,” Dr Rumble said. “There’s something therapeutic about imaging ourselves ‘returning to nature’, whatever our personal beliefs.”

The research also found people were choosing natural burials for other reasons, including environmental worries, the desire to give back to nature or to reduce the burden on their families.

James Leadham, founder of Native Woodland Ltd which in June opened in Midford, Bath, said: “There’s a broad appeal for natural burials because people see it as a thoughtful or generous thing to do. It’s something that’s wholly benign, unlike crematoriums which give off pollution.”

Mr Leadham says: “There’s a stereotype that it’s a middle-class thing but that’s not true at all. Anyone with an interest in the countryside – be they farmers or ramblers or just people who enjoy the fresh air – could want to go natural.”

“In most cases no gravestones or markers of any kind are allowed in natural burials but families can be issued with a location plan showing them exactly where the grave of their loved one is buried so they can find the spot again in the future.

Mr Leadham started the company in 2003 after the death of his aunt. “She had a very pragmatic view of her disposal and wanted something entirely environmentally friendly. I found a natural burial site in Dorset and thought it was fantastic and decided everywhere should have something like that.”

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