The natural burial champion

Rosie Inman-Cook is the manager of The Natural Death Centre Charity and the Association of Natural Burial Ground (ANBG). Here she explains here why a natural burial is a greener alternative and better for the families.

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“I never imagined telling my careers teacher at school that one day I would be running a funeral-advice charity. Indeed, I trained as a student nurse and worked as a dance teacher previously.

“But I’m a bit of an amateur naturalist. I grew up in the countryside and my father, a doctor, said to me, ‘Bury me at the bottom of the garden and plant an apple tree.’

“His wish inspired me to establish the South Downs Natural Burial Site in Hampshire in 1999. The site is now the busiest in the UK. There were only around 50 Natural Burial Grounds (NBGs) at that time but, today, there are some 300 - from Penzance to Aberdeen.

“In 2007, I stepped aside to manage The Natural Death Centre, an educational charity. It is committed to supporting cultural change and is working towards a situation where all people are empowered in the process of dying and organising a funeral. The Centre runs the Association of Natural Burial Grounds (ANBG), promoting choice and education in all aspects of funerals.

“Natural burial is growing in the UK. People are starting to realise that it’s better for the environment. It’s about taking responsibility for your own embodied carbon and taking it out of the carbon cycle. For me, it’s a win-win-win. Natural burial is good for the planet, it’s good for people and it’s good for wildlife.

“I’m passionate about it because it gives families more control over the funeral. This, in turn, means it’s better for their grieving process.

“The UK leads the way, educating the planet about natural burial. Countries like the United States, Canada and the Netherlands in Europe, are also now establishing natural burial grounds (NBGs). I’d love to see natural burial account for 40-50 per cent of funerals in the future (currently some 80 per cent of people are cremated) with thousands of acres of land used for natural burial to protect habitats.

“I’m frustrated by the way people do not always receive the correct facts and advice about their options. I’d like to think that the Natural Death Centre helpline (see number below) is making a real difference, offering free advice. Meanwhile, the ANBG, of which Monument Meadow Natural Burial Ground is a member, is building a network of first-rate burial grounds across the UK.

“My father ultimately got his wish and is now buried, along with my mother, at my old site in the South Downs National Park. One day I’ll join them in the family plot. Whenever I visit, I feel so proud that, some 20-odd years on, the site is beautiful and tranquil, teeming with birds and wildlife.

“We are creating nature reserves through low-carbon burial. And that feels very special.”

Tel: 01962 712690