The number of “nature cemeteries” is rising as more people opt for a no-frills, eco-friendly burial in designated natural areas, industry figures have shown.
Some 2,600 people preferred a natural burial in 2022, compared to just 150 11 years ago, Walter Kooy, chairman of nature cemetery organisation Brana, told RTL Nieuws.
“The number of people who opt for this type of burial is growing by 20% a year,” Kooy said. Two to three new cemeteries, where wild flowers grow and graves are indicated by a stone or wooden marker, are opened each year. The current number stands at 25, Brana figures show.
Most of the cemeteries are situated in the central and eastern provinces. “The land elevation there ensures that the legal requirement of burying the bodies at least 30 centimetres above groundwater level to make sure they decompose can be met,” Kooy said.
His organisation has asked the home affairs ministry to scrap the requirement as bodies buried at a nature cemetery are not removed after a certain period of time, as is the case in ordinary cemeteries, making the groundwater level irrelevant.
“If the law is changed it would become easier to offer this type of burial in areas such as the Randstad as well,” Kooy said.
“I had trouble finding the grave at first,” Julia Smeehuijzen who lost her husband in 2021 told RTL. “I may sound strange but that is exactly what should have happened. There are no headstones here, just small wood markers and that had disappeared in the long grass. I like the thought that he is now one with nature, which he loved.
Resomation, whereby the body is chemically dissolved in water, is another way of disposing of bodies in an environmentally friendly way. It has been approved by the Health Council but is not yet allowed by law.
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