Natural Burial

What is a Natural Burial?

A natural burial is one that adheres to the following principles.

Coffins/receptacles are of natural, biodegradable material. Wood, if used, is natural untreated pine or other suitable material.

There is no embalming (which uses toxic chemicals and thus needs to be avoided), the body is clothed in natural fibre fabric, without makeup. Natural oils can be used.

Graves are to be single, and shallow (600mm) allowing for an aerobic environment to generate a faster decomposition process.

Instead of individual grave markers on a grave site, a small commemorative plaque is placed on a commemorative wall at the entry to the burial grounds. Location of each individual burial site will be by GPS coordinates within the natural surround.

Benefits of a Natural Burial:

It is ecologically positive, sustainable and requires low maintenance. It is earth nourishing and less costly to operate (no paving, monuments, kerbing, pest control, toxic sprays, etc.). It allows the earth to breathe and regenerate and supports local flora and fauna.

It encourages natural life to grow and proliferate. It fits the Shire’s Strategic Plan Sustainability Statement, such as Item 2 of the 5 key objectives, and all of the ways of achieving those objectives. We believe it will enhance the quality of community life in the Shire as characterised by positive participation, cohesiveness and increased social capital and supports positive mental health attitudes.

There will be less costly maintenance for the Shire at a graveside because there will be no gravestones or flowers. The site becomes the natural memorial to those deceased.

Shroud only burial

While burial in a shroud is permitted in all other States, the practice is currently not legal in both Western Australia and the Northern Territory. This means that until the State amends its legislation to allow for shroud only burials, coffins or receptacles must be used, of natural biodegradable material, untreated timber or wicker. This use of timber is considered unsustainable and a waste of a precious resource.

Ashes in appropriate containers may also be placed in a Natural Burial Ground.

It is worth considering that dental amalgams, when reaching the temperature levels at cremation release toxic mercury vapour. The noxious chemicals released during the cremation process are damaging to the environment and increase our carbon footprint. 

Other Aspects of a Natural Burial Ground:

Due to the nature of a natural burial ground, while a right to burial may be purchased in advance, the actual location can only be made when a burial is being arranged.