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There are so many benefits to green burial, by returning the body to the earth you are providing the soil with essential nutrients it needs to be healthy, you are limiting using practices that negatively impact the environment and you are actively participating in a ritual in service of the body of your dead loved one- something that has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the possibility of prolonged and/or complicated grief.
But there is also the bigger picture of conserving, creating, and protecting habitat. Cemeteries (at least those for white people) have long been considered to be sacred ground, and protected from development. Even as the definition of sacred moves from religious to secular, the benefits of combining conservation and rewilding efforts with natural burial grounds is substantial.
On January 17th, I talked with Jane Lindholm of VPR about Spirit Sanctuary a private, conservation-style cemetery in the Split Rock Wildway in Essex, NY which offers enrollees the opportunity to make a bequest to one of their conservation partners, allowing members a significantly reduced cost of burial. By asking enrollees to do with their money for the conservation groups that steward the land what their bodies will do for the health of the land itself, Spirit Sanctuary has created a unique approach conservation through burial.
The Split Rock Wildway connects the rich valleys along the western edge of Lake Champlain to the High Peaks of the central Adirondacks. This wildlife
corridor is considered highly resilient according to The Nature
Conservancy’s Resilient Land Mapping tool, and therefore a high
priority for targeted conservation efforts in an era of climate
uncertainty. The land is protected for conservation in perpetuity by
the Eddy Foundation, a private family foundation whose highest
priority is protecting linkages in critical wildlife corridors. Read this amazing article (including fantastic drone footage) to find out more about Spirit Sanctuary.