Family burial procession at Greensprings Natural Cemetery, Newfield, NY, with Amy Cunningham, Fitting Tribute Funeral Services, Brooklyn, NY
A conservation cemetery or some times called a conservation burial ground looks and feels like the natural area that surrounds it, where nature is enough, just as it is.
Bodies are not embalmed, nor encased in metal caskets, nor concrete vaults. They are simply returned to a place of rest in the earth, with biodegradable materials such as a pine box, a cloth shroud, a favorite quilt, or nothing at all. The burial site is recorded just as in any other cemetery, and family and friends are able to return and visit whenever needed.
Conservation burial grounds frequently exist in relationship with land trusts or other conservation entities with permanent protections, called conservation easements, placed upon them. Conservation easements are voluntary, legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust (or government agency) that permanently limits the uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values.
Since 2006, LANDMATTERS has researched and explored models of green burial, conservation burial grounds, and natural cemeteries with an appreciation for the design of a conservation project that preserves a region’s rural character, ensures healthy wildlife corridors, protects important stream corridors, and ultimately, provides the community an enduring place of rest and regeneration.
Land trusts own land and understand the potential for certain properties to help support the organization’s mission through complementary revenue generating uses. Conservation burial grounds can develop revenue to support land trust operations, stewardship of land and the acquisition of additional conservation lands.
We support a land trust's development of a conservation burial ground project while not drifting from its own mission orientation. Our colleagues in the Conservation Burial Alliance produced a virtual field trip of conservation burial grounds around the country for the land trust community in 2021. Sit back and enjoy it here.