by Anne Wharton
Some of us who are concerned about the state of our environment have become increasingly interested in Natural Burial in recent years. For natural burial, the body is prepared without chemical preservatives and a biodegradable coffin or shroud is used. The first natural burial sites were started in the UK about 1993 and there are now over 200 sites there. The original idea of natural burial was to revegetate degraded land and restore it to its former diversity. Anything used for the burial has to be biodegradable. The body is buried at the top level only at a depth of 1.8 metres so the body has much more chance of breaking down quickly than at lower depths.
Wirra Wonga at Enfield Cemetery is the only natural burial site in Adelaide. Wirra Wonga which is the Kaurna word for bush grave, has a 99 year lease on burial sites. Six months after the burial, a shrub or tree is planted on the grave, using plants indigenous to the adjacent Folland Park Reserve. There is no physical identification at the burial site but there is a memorial stone with the names of those buried there at the entrance.
Research tells us that on the day of a funeral, cremations have 4 times the emissions of a burial. However, in the long term, burials have a bigger footprint than cremations because of the resources needed to maintain them. For a natural burial at Wirra Wonga, this footprint would probably be a little less.
About 3 years ago I did some research on natural burial and funerals generally, including funeral companies in Adelaide. Come along to the One Planet Market this Saturday, where we will discuss these issues at our Workshop at 10.30. The Market is at Payneham Community Centre and runs from 9am – 12 Noon.