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Natural burial as a land conservation tool in the US

Coutts, Christopher, Basmajian, Carlton, Sehee, Joseph, Kelty, Sarah, Williams, Patrice C.
Landscape and urban planning 2018 v.178 pp. 130-143
agricultural land, byproducts, inventories, land management, models, prototypes, toxicity, United States
Natural burial (NB) is an ecologically-sensitive alternative to traditional burial in a lawn-park cemetery. NB can reduce or eliminate the use of resources and toxic byproducts, but NB may also be more environmentally sustainable due to its potential as a land conservation tool. We address the research question ‘How is natural burial being used as a tool for land conservation?’ by assessing secondary data of NB trends in the US, creating a verified inventory of NB grounds, evaluating three NB models being used to conserve land, and assessing the regulatory barriers to NB. Our study reveals there are currently 162 geographically dispersed NB providers in the US and few legal restrictions to NB. The three prototype cases—representing restored agricultural land, land on the urban fringe in threat of development, and forested land adjacent to existing conserved public land—provide planners with promising models from which context-specific solutions can be adopted.