Council Offers Natural Burials

Jul 24, 2017
4319 Views

Those who wish to have a ‘natural burial’ can now do so at Invercargill’s Eastern Cemetery.
Following demand, an area of the cemetery has been designated for natural burials.

Parks Manager Robin Pagan said Council has always sought to accommodate anyone with special wishes for their burial, including designating an area of the cemetery for Jewish people, and ensuring that those of the Muslim faith were laid to rest facing toward Mecca.
“This is just another way we can help to ensure people’s wishes are
respected,” he said.

A natural burial is the interment of the body in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition, but allows the body to recycle naturally.
The intention of this type of burial is to have as little environmental impact as possible when a body is buried.

Eastern cemetery manager Raylene Leith-Forbes and Parks Manager Robin Pagan at the new designated site for natural burials at the cemetery. photo: supplied.

Embalming chemicals are not usually allowed to be used for this type of burial, in an aim to speed up the natural processes of returning the body and its nutrients to the soil, and to reduce the amount of artificial and toxic chemicals and materials introduced to the soil.
The planting of trees or shrubs within the site of burial is common practice for natural burials.
That will be the case at Eastern Cemetery, where the long-term vision is to create a lasting legacy of flourishing plant life.

About 30 natural burials will be able to take place in the current designated area, which will gradually be planted with trees and shrubs.

Should the designated area be filled, there is further land available nearby which can also be used for natural burials.
Memorials, such as headstones, are not permitted in the natural burial area, but there are other areas in the cemetery where loved ones may place a plaque of remembrance.

Requirements for natural burials:

  • To enable a progressive continuity of planting, burial placement is sequential, and not subject to personal selection.
  • Burials are made within the active upper soil levels at single depth, with a minimum depth cover of 800mm.
  • Caskets or coffins should be made of chemically untreated and unprocessed materials.
  • Bodies interred within the natural burial area must not be embalmed or chemically treated.
  • Any items placed with the deceased must be made from natural materials and appropriate for our natural burial area. Items made from non-biodegradable materials are not permitted.
  • No plot markers are allowed within the natural burial area. GPS co- ordinates will be recorded at the time of burial. The co-ordinates will be entered into the cemetery register and onto the natural burial map.
  • Burial plots can be pre-purchased in this area of the cemetery but a specific plot will only be allocated in sequence by the Council at the time of burial.

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