Getting Down To Earth About Woodland Burial

Local community-owned woodland burial co-operative, Down to Earth (NI) Limited, will hold a community engagement meeting to discuss the concept of woodland burial in Northern Ireland, on:

Monday 27 June 2016 at 7pm, at Ballydugan Mill outside Downpatrick.

This is the latest in a series of meetings over the last two years, focusing on the views of the local community, while outlining the background behind woodland burial.

Woodland burials may soon provide an alternative to traditional burials as plans move ahead for a new site in County Down.
Woodland burials may soon provide an alternative to traditional burials as plans move ahead for a new site in County Down.

The organisation plan to offer environmentally friendly woodland burial to the public in what it is hoped, will become the first site of its kind in Northern Ireland. Local farmland in the Lecale area has already been identified with planning in preparation and imminent for the project.

Due to public demand, this type of burial has increased markedly across the rest of the U.K. with some 250 sites already in existence. While in County Wicklow, a non-cooperative green woodland burial area already exists.

The co-operative, which has been in existence for two years, is one of Northern Ireland’s first Provident organisations, raising initial capital through a share offer in January 2013. Once trading, the company will offer services to those with or without faith and will be owned solely by the community for the community.

Importantly the use of highly toxic formaldehyde, currently used in many mass-produced coffins and in embalming fluid, will not be permitted. In addition, other elements such as the use of gravel, concrete, grave decorations, the tradition of mowed grass walkways and non-indigenous planting, will not be part of the ethos. Instead indigenous trees will form glades and copses, GPS markers will identify graves and visually the site will become a natural woodland, free from environmental impact.

The creation of this environmentally friendly option will also bring jobs from periphery industries such as natural embalming, casket manufacture, local in-season flowers, coppicing etc.

A spokesperson for the organisation said, “When it comes to green burial, we know the time is right for a greener way forward. We believe in the importance of dignity in death, and know in an area of Europe with the lowest level of tree coverage, that we will also be helping to create new woodlands in the process.

“We hope this will be the first of other woodland burial areas in Northern Ireland with scope to also provide burial for pets in the future.”

A panel of speakers including representatives from the church, the community, the design team and representatives from Down to Earth will be present at the event. The meeting will be of interest to public representatives, faith groups, environmentalists, those interested in job creation and the wider public.