Cemeteries are places for people to be memorialized forever, and places for family and loved ones to return to for reflection. Conservation burial grounds serve as a place where individuals’ commitment to conservation and perpetuity come together. Where a lifetime expressed in values of simplicity and sustainability, are retained in the final act of returning to the earth, naturally.
We believe there is not one formula for making these projects successful but that the foundation to a successful conservation burial ground is in the strength of the partnership between a burial ground and a land trust— developed with assurance that both parties’ goals are aligned and complementary. Since 2017, we have worked with land trusts, private citizens and community partners on developing conservation burial projects.
With the launching of Bluestem, we have limited capacity for new clients. If you are thinking about developing a natural or conservation burial ground, consider working through this assessment tool, as an important starting place. It was created for land trust board members and staff for our presentation Dying for Conservation at Rally 2019.
Tools and Products
Conservation burial projects can be time consuming. They begin with a review of the state cemetery laws and comprehension of allowable options and limitations. They require resources such as land, legal counsel, staffing, partners, consumers, and perpetual care. A list of some decision making tools for building the foundation of a strong conservation burial project follows below.
Assessment Tool: designed for land trusts to support their decision making process
A Conservation Burial Presentation: a synopsis powerpoint with visuals to provide basic factual information, goals and relevance of a conservation burial ground
Introducing Conservation Burial: a powerpoint presentation for community groups
Conservation Burial Models: an analysis of conservation burial business types and models
Conservation Burial Concept Paper: a 1-2 page description of a potential conservation burial project and how it may be relevant to a land trust or other conservation organization
Conservation Burial Ground Concept Map: a schematic design of a natural burial ground within a nature preserve
Start Up Worksheet: designed to establish project purpose and goals
Start Up Project Budget: planning budget for a turnkey conservation burial ground
Financial Projections: conceptual revenue projections for decision-making purposes
Potential Revenue and Expenses Spreadsheet: in depth financial projection analysis, including the costs of building and operating a conservation burial ground
Drafting a Conservation Easement: guidance and oversight for land trust staff
All photos: Bluestem Conservation Cemetery, North Carolina