Care for the environment is leading to a growing number of people in the South West choosing to be buried rather than cremated.
Bristol Memorial Woodlands, where a 100-acre wood and meadows are being created as part of the burial grounds, has seen a surge in sales of burial plots and people requesting burials rather than cremations.
With cremations in Bristol’s Canford and South Bristol Crematoriums alone using over 20,000 cubic metres of gas per month those who care about their environmental impact are leaving instructions for their funerals.
For decades cremations have been more popular than burials as church attendances decline, but now woodland burials are on the increase.
Depending on the efficiency of the crematoria equipment the average cremation uses 28 gallons of fuel for each body emitting around 540 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Chris Baker, who founded Bristol Memorial Woodlands, near Alveston, north of Bristol, said: “We cater for both burials and interment of ashes and we are finding more and more people are going back to the age-old tradition of burial.
“People with a strong faith often have a particular way that they want their body to be treated after death but we find many people are more spiritual than religious. The idea appeals to them of their burial helping to create a woodland and that they will rest amongst trees, returning to the soil and supporting nature in the future.
“There is also a strong desire to protect the environment and reduce emissions to prevent global warming. It would be strange to spend a lifetime caring for the environment then choose cremation with its much higher carbon footprint.
“They don’t like the idea of using up gas, polluting the atmosphere or the concept of being scattered. With a burial the family have a place where they can go and feel connected to the person they have lost – and if that is in a woodland so much the better.”
Mr Baker said that there had been a surge in people buying burial plots in advance for their families as well as a growing number of people seeking burial when a loved one dies.
“There is a mistaken belief that we are running out of room to bury people in the UK. That just isn’t true. Yes, many church yards are full but there is a need to recreate woodland and a woodland cemetery provides the solution for both.”
All faiths and no faiths are catered for at Bristol Memorial Woodlands and a trust has been set up to manage the woodlands in future, which will be preserved for future generations. Predominantly native British species are
planted and there are also sections of the 100 acres that are being planted as wild flower meadows.