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Woodland burials

Woodland graves offer an alternative, natural form of burial, in which the accumulating graves remain forever, in a newly created forest. The area has been planned to recreate traditional woodland, which will provide important environmental benefits for the encouragement and protection of wildlife.

We are concerned with any form of damage to the environment and recognise that burial facilities can be designed to offer many benefits to wildlife. The creation of a habitat for wildlife will assist in increasing the amount of birds, mammals, insects and flowers and also provide a burial area for those departed who wish to ‘return to nature’.

The cemetery

The woodland burial area is located at Woodwells Cemetery.

Address:
Woodwell Cemetery
Buncefield Lane
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
HP2 7HY

Telephone: 01442 228066
Email: cemeteries@dacorum.gov.uk

Woodwells Cemetery opened in 1960 and is a lawn cemetery (with lawn headstones), the remainder of the graves are grassed over to permit unimpeded mowing of the grave spaces.

The woodland graves are located in an area of the cemetery which is an extension to the original cemetery.

Returning to nature

The burial area has been carefully considered and the grave spaces accurately recorded on plans, so that they can be easily located in woodland and dense undergrowth.

Each grave will be prepared to a single depth and two graves, adjoining each other, may be available for partners. Following an interment, sufficient time must be permitted in order to allow the settlement of soil.

Grass, together with wildflower seeds, will be provided at the appropriate time of year, and a small native species tree planted near the grave space.

Ecological coffins

In order to ensure that the woodland burial area remains as natural as possible, only biodegradable coffins will be permitted. Wooden coffins will only be accepted if manufactured from timber felled in managed tree forests and must be ecologically sound.

The deceased person will be accepted for burial in either a corrugated cardboard coffin, a home-made coffin (to an approved design and standard) or a suitable coffin purchased from a funeral director.

The deceased must be suitably attired in biodegradable clothing.

Shroud burials are also acceptable as long as the deceased is suitably covered.

Maintaining the area

The woodland burial area will be managed for the benefit of wildlife. This entails two grass mowings, at specified times each year to promote various kinds of wild flowers.

It must be appreciated that the traditional ‘neat and tidy’ appearance of cemeteries will not apply to this burial area.

No horticultural chemicals will be used in the control of weeds, grass etc.

Funeral arrangements

Graves will not be reserved for specific religions, and the dead of varying faiths will be buried in the same area. No form of religious ceremony may be desired at the interment and this wish will be respected.

Traditional funeral patterns do not have to be rigidly followed and in certain circumstances it may be appropriate for the funeral to be carried out without using the guidance of a funeral director.

Memorials

As a natural environment is being provided, in order to encourage wildlife to thrive, no memorials will be permitted in this area. This includes planting flowers, vases etc and these items will be removed if found.

The native species tree to be planted following an interment will be a living memorial and will offer greater longevity than a traditional headstone.

Trees

Native species of trees are encouraged, although in recent years it's been found that some species do better than others (please seek advice from the cemetery team).

Trees are guaranteed for one year and every effort is made to ensure their longevity. No chemicals will be used to ensure growth and as a result the occasional loss may happen, as in nature itself.

Fees

Charges are made for the right of burial, interment and memorial tree. A Deed of Ownership will be prepared and issued, indicating an initial period of ownership for 50 years.

Unlike traditional graves this period is not significant, as the growing trees will prevent the grave being reused and the burial will remain undisturbed forever, as part of the natural woodland. (Please note: non-Dacorum residents will be subject to non-resident charges.)

Is a woodland burial for me?

Woodland burial is not for people who require a neat and tidy grave, with its traditional headstone, marker or memorial.

It will be chosen by those who love birds and wildlife and who wish to create woodland for future generations and provide environmental benefits for the people of Dacorum.