Conservation Burial FAQ’s

What is conservation burial?
Conservation burial requires that 1. the land is in permanent conservation with a qualified Land Trust and 2. all elements of burial must adhere to natural (or green) burial methods. Toxic embalming fluids—such as those containing formaldehyde—are prohibited, as are burial vaults and liners. Grave markers, if used, must be made of local natural materials like stone or wood and be flush to the ground. Two other hallmarks of conservation burial are a very low density of burial and an emphasis on protection of the natural habitat and visual landscape. The vista is one of trees, grasses and open space; buildings and roads are minimal if at all.

Why do we need an alternative to conventional burial and cremation? Consider the yearly impact of conventional burial here in the US:

• 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid, including formaldehyde
• 180,544,000 pounds of steel, in caskets
• 5,400,000 pounds of copper and bronze, in caskets
• 30 million board feet of hardwoods, including tropical woods, in caskets
• 3,272,000,000 pounds of reinforced concrete for vaults
• 28,000,000 pounds of steel in vaults, (compiled by Mary Woodsen)

Cremation releases toxins in the air and is very energy intensive. In contrast, green burial is sustainable, more affordable and offers powerful healing and spiritual opportunities for those involved. Conservation burial such as at Resh Mill Preserve allows us to make our final act a contribution to the forever-preservation of a beautiful piece of rural land.

Is natural burial legal? Yes. Most of what you may think of as laws are either rules of individual cemeteries or common practices assumed to be legal requirements. Natural burial is legal and in use in every state. No state requires embalming. There are over 100 natural burial sites in the US and hundreds more worldwide.

Will animals disturb the gravesites?
No. Green burial is one of the oldest technologies. Burials take place 4 feet below the ground with a slight mound remaining above ground. Animals simply do not dig into graves this deep. Ramsey Creek, a conservation burial site in South Carolina started in 1996, has a wild boar population as well as black bears and coyotes and they have never experienced any problems. Natural burial cemeteries throughout the United States have not experienced animals disturbing graves in any way. Grave sites are monitored daily by the caretaker.
Will a natural burial cemetery hurt water quality?
No. Because green cemeteries don’t have run-off of sewerage, fertilizers, spilled fuels or toxins associated with conventional cemeteries, natural burial land leaves cleaner water than urban, suburban, or agricultural areas. Soil is a remarkably good filter. The protected trees, grasses and wetlands of a conservation burial site provide additional adsorption and filtering.
What kind of traffic does it generate? Traffic is light and intermittent. Back-woods burials are generally small, private family affairs, as distinguished from a funeral service that might be held at a place of worship, home or community center. Hours are daylight only.
How can I learn more about natural burial?
You can visit the Green Burial Council’s website, www.greenburialcouncil.org and the Resh Mill Preserve website, http://www.reshmillpreserve.com.

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