AS A TREE sets forth new leaves before it dies, people will soon have the option to give life after death with the natural burial ground initiative Earth Funerals.
The natural burial ground is located at a property at Saumarez Pond and sustainability charity Starfish Initiatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Armidale Tree Group on Thursday.
The Armidale Tree group aims to vegetate more than 50 per cent of the property with native flora.
President of the Armidale Tree Group David Carr said that the burial ground is a natural fit with the ethos of the group.
“Our ethos is to tread softly on the planet and try to improve things, and this seems like a better way to do that.
“It’s also a life-affirming thing, if death can be life-affirming, the ability for people to leave a legacy after they die, to contribute to a project like this means that there’s not just headstones they’re remembered by, they’re actually part of a much bigger project,” he said.
The natural burial ground will be the first of its kind in Australia.
The average cost of a funeral in NSW is more than $5000 and cremation is more than $3000, the group hopes to offer natural burials at a similar cost to cremation with less impact on the Earth.
Executive director of Starfish Initiatives Adam Blakester said the ultimate goal is to use the Armidale site as a prototype for bigger metropolitan projects down the line.
“This is really significant I think both nationally and internationally, we’re butting up against a traditional funeral industry that isn’t clean, isn’t natural and in many instances isn’t affordable so we’re going to tick those boxes.
“The feedback we’re getting from this local community is that there’s a very strong interest from people who would prefer to have their funeral done in a way that’s very natural, non-polluting and simple.
“That side of it is a really valuable social service, the bigger picture links to the partnership with the Armidale Tree Group in this region which is the contribution to re-vegetating large tracks of landscape and the potential of that is quite significant,” he said.
Funeral director Kevin Hartley said that the environmental impact of a funeral itself is not that high, but there are ongoing costs associated with cemetery maintenance.
“The local council shows a $50,000 loss on their lawn cemetery every year because once people are buried the maintenance goes on forever.
“It’s perfectly reasonable for us to consume, to create waste and to drive a car while we’re alive, however, from the moment you take your last breath the idea that you should continue to consume is absurd,” he said.