What is natural burial?

Natural burials are a growing trend but hearken back to a centuries-old tradition. In a natural burial, the deceased are not embalmed and caskets are not placed inside underground metal or concrete vaults. Rather, the deceased are placed in shrouds or biodegradable caskets, typically made of wood or other natural materials. Graves can be marked by natural, engraved stones that lie flat and are typically fewer than three inches above the ground. The Kokosing Nature Preserve is the first conservation burial ground in the nation to be affiliated with a college or university land conservancy.

Is natural burial a new concept?

No. Natural burial is the way most people were buried throughout the ages. The use of concrete vaults and embalming are relatively new concepts, becoming popular in the United States during the Civil War. Natural burial is a re-emerging movement nationally and worldwide. The nation’s first conservation burial ground, Ramsey Creek Preserve in South Carolina, opened in 1998. Thirty-eight cemeteries are approved by the Green Burial Council across the United States. The natural burial movement does not oppose interment of any kind but offers a traditional, environmentally sound alternative for those who are interested.

Is natural burial legal?

Yes. Although vaults are not required by law, most cemeteries require them for ease of maintenance and closer spacing of graves. Embalming is only required under rare circumstances, with a few states requiring it if a body is transported by common carrier or will not be buried within a certain amount of time. Kokosing Nature Preserve is registered with the State of Ohio, fulfilling all requirements for the establishment of a perpetual care trust fund. The preserve has also sought the highest level of certification from the Green Burial Council, an independent, not-for-profit organization that has established eco-certification standards for natural burial grounds.

Doesn’t embalming preserve a body forever?

No. Embalming simply delays the inevitable and natural decomposition process.

Can I have a viewing if the body is not embalmed?

Funeral homes set their own policies for viewing unembalmed bodies. Refrigeration and dry ice are methods of temporary preservation that some funeral homes will allow.

Who provides funeral services?

Most people will choose to work with a funeral home to plan for such services as transportation or viewings. With prior planning, it is possible for family or loved ones to handle burial preparation at home. If you do choose to work with a funeral home, it is important to discuss your wishes for a natural burial with your funeral director. You may also wish to work with a funeral home that has been approved by the Green Burial Council

The staff at Kokosing Nature Preserve will help plan a graveside services, which may be held at the time of interment. Families and friends may participate in the services as arranged by the family, including lowering the casket and closing the grave. Lawn space can be rented at the preserve for services and gatherings.

Can cremated remains be buried or scattered?

Yes. Kokosing Nature Preserve accepts cremated remains for either burial or scattering. Interment rights can be purchased for the purpose of burying or scattering cremated remains within a specific plot. The preserve also features designated areas for scattering throughout the property. A permanent record of the scattering location is maintained.

Does a nature preserve cemetery hurt water quality?

No. The forest and prairie watershed at Kokosing Nature Preserve provide cleaner water for the Kokosing watershed. Moreover, modern burial vaults are constructed with drains and have an impact on groundwater.

How are graves marked?

A natural, engraved stone may be placed flat at the gravesite, but this is not required. Families may wish to plant wildflowers from an approved list of native species, and approved native species of trees may also be planted at some burial plots.

Will animals disturb the gravesites?

No. Animals simply do not dig into graves. Other nature preserve cemeteries have not experienced problems with animals disturbing gravesites.

How will the cemetery be maintained?

Kokosing Nature Preserve is first and foremost a nature preserve. Most of the property is planted with native prairie grasses and wildflowers and will not be mowed in the same manner as a conventional cemetery. Mowed paths provide access to all areas of the nature preserve. If needed for a burial, a temporary path will be mowed to provide direct access to the burial plot. Designated areas will be maintained as mowed lawn space. Restoration techniques to improve the health of the prairie will include periodic prairie burns. A permanent endowment fund provides for future care and maintenance of the property.

Is the Kokosing Nature Preserve open to all?

Yes. The Kokosing Nature Preserve offers a park-like setting for all members of the local community to enjoy. Anyone who is interested in being interred at the preserve will be able to purchase a plot.

For more information

Please visit greenburialcouncil.org.