Shoalhaven Council has approved Natural Burial Portion at the Cambewarra (Good Dog) Cemetery
Address: 7 W Cambewarra Rd, North Nowra NSW 2541
Although not currently a common practice in Australia, there is a growing interest in natural burials. Natural burial is a process by which the body of a deceased person is interred in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition and allows the body to recycle naturally. It is seen as an alternative to contemporary Western burial methods. Subject to State and Local Government rulings, natural burials may take place on both private land and in any cemetery that will accommodate this technique.
Prior research is required by the person electing a natural burial as not all local government authorities allow this style of burial. Currently there are no natural burial site facilities in the Illawarra. Natural burial facilities exist in the Shoalhaven and further information can be found at http://cremweb.shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au/index.php/shoalhaven-cemeteries/natural-burial
A brief overview
- Every Natural Burial must comply with the Public Health Regulation (Disposal of Bodies) 2002 (Regulation) under the Public Health Act of NSW.
- The body is be prepared without chemical preservatives or disinfectants such as embalming fluid that may destroy the microbial decomposers active in breaking the body down.
- The deceased may be buried in a biodegradable coffin, casket, or shroud.
- The grave does not use a burial vault or outer burial container that prohibits the body’s contact with soil.
- The grave should be dug to a depth shallow enough to allow microbial activity similar to that found in composting.
- Often burials take place with no obvious signs, i.e. headstone or plaques, and family members are given location details of the burial sites.
What is natural burial?
A natural burial attempts to return a body to the earth in as natural a way as possible. This generally involves a rejection of embalming processes, cremation and caskets or coffins that won’t biodegrade with time and often takes place in green spaces, such as wildflower meadows, protected woodland and park land.
Some natural burial sites will allow graves to be marked while others do not permit any identifying features whatsoever, in effect turning the whole site into a memorial.
What are the advantages of a natural burial?
Depending on your personal perspective on death, there can be a number of benefits and advantages to natural burials. First and foremost, they are a far more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional burial.
As both embalming and the use of traditional coffins and caskets significantly slows natural decomposition, a traditional burial can have a lasting impact on the immediate environment. Natural burials, on the other hand, reject these processes in order to return the body to the earth in as natural a way as possible and to help it become part of the natural life cycle by returning the body to the very soil from which everything grows.
Natural burials can also be considerably less expensive than traditional burials and often play an important role in conservation efforts. When spaces are set up as natural burial grounds, they are protected from development and have a long-term future as a wild space in which nature is allowed to thrive.
For those who would prefer not to be consumed by vulture nor spore, there’s a more traditional option. Green burial looks pretty much like a normal burial, accept for a few important differences. No embalming fluids or toxic chemicals of any kind can be used. The grave is often dug by hand (either by the green burial ground staff or, if they choose, the loved ones themselves). There is no cement plot. Only biodegradable caskets, such as wicker ones, can be used, or the body is simply placed in an unbleached cloth shroud. This allows the corpse to decompose naturally, returning its sustenance to the Earth. Many green burial grounds also act as wildlife refuges, creating safe spaces for animals and native plant life—families can choose from a variety of live, wild grasses and flowers to adorn the grave.
Aside from being environmentally friendly, this is a cheaper option than traditional burial considering the price tags on caskets, embalming, etc. While prices around the country vary, according to Undertaking LA—a mortuary that promotes green burial—the average funeral in Los Angeles is over $8000 not including the burial plot, whereas they offer green burial for under $7000 including the plot itself.