Natural Burial Ceremonies

The definition by the Institue of Cemetery and Crematorium Management of a ‘natural burial’ is:

“A funeral that has a low environmental impact”.

Society’s growing awareness of and concern for, the environmental impact of mankind’s activities has led to a surge in the interest of low environmental impact funerals. There are now approximately 300 Natural Burial sites in the UK. The long term aim for a majority of these sites is that they will be returned to nature; often woodland.

To minimise the environmental impact, a cardboard or otherwise biodegradable coffin is required at most sites for it is considered more environmentally friendly than using wood. Traditional headstones are not permitted and any items that are not fully biodegradable are not permitted on graves.

Most natural burial sites have no form of buildings or structures and, therefore, everything is conducted outside. As with municipal cemeteries, natural burial sites are non-religious. There can be much greater flexibility regarding the content of the service and often the time constraints of a ceremony held in a crematorium will not apply. It is advisable, however, to this check with your Funeral Director.

(Picture: Courtesy of

It is possible to create a respectful and meaningful ‘person-centred’ ceremony based entirely on the values, wishes and beliefs of the deceased and their family. The ceremony could incorporate music, readings and tributes from family and friends; should they wish to contribute.

Ceremonies conducted by Civil Funeral Celebrants in natural burial grounds are often much more peaceful and person focused than ceremonies held in a crematorium, due to the intimacy of the setting and the tranquility of the natural environment.