Bristol Memorial Woodlands, which is being created as a peaceful place where people can remember their loved ones, has been hit by ash dieback.
A small number of ash trees planted in the 1990s when the woodlands first started operating have been hit by the fungus, which originated in Asia and was first spotted in the UK in 2012.
The Woodlands, near Thornbury just north of Bristol, a regional centre for environmentally friendly funerals where people have more time to say goodbye to loved ones, has removed ash trees as an option for mourners.
Christopher Baker, who founded Bristol Memorial Woodlands, said: “It is a great shame as we are creating a natural woodland parkland that will be there for future generations and ideally we would like all species of native British trees.
“The ash is a tall and graceful tree that is wonderful for encouraging wildlife but at the moment it seems we need to clear out the affected trees. Once we are convinced that the fungus is gone or resistant strains have been developed, we will revert to offering ash trees.
“At the moment we are able to offer families oaks, willow, cherry, apple, pear, rowan and silver birch so there is still a wonderful choice of native British species. Planting depends on the time of year and state of the ground but people find it a wonderful way to mark the passing of a loved one.
“I remember when Dutch Elm disease robbed the British countryside of our magnificent elm trees and it is a shame that ash is now being affected in this way. Families who purchased an ash have been informed and replacement species have been arranged.”
Bristol Memorial Woodlands offers unhurried burials at its chapel, garden and reception venue hidden behind a row of yew trees. Plots for burials or the interment of ashes are offered nearby and trees are planted as a memorial.
Families can visit the woodlands, picnic, walk and enjoy the countryside. Burials are more environmentally sound than cremations as no fuel is used (other than in the tractors and Memorial Woodlands are looking into their electrification) and the 100-acre woodland will be managed in future by a charitable trust so that it is protected for future generations. Families donate to the trust fund to support the woodlands future.
Bristol Memorial Woodlands is not far from the motorway network with people from throughout the South West region using it as a funeral venue where you can spend a half or full day marking the passing of a loved one.
It has special burial grounds for certain faiths, including Muslim and Jewish areas.