Sydney’s first natural burial ground
|Bishop Julian Porteous blessed the natural burial ground (from left): Peter Ward, Chairman of Catholic Cemeteries; Minister Tony Kelly; and Michael McMahon, CEO of Catholic Cemeteries.|
The NSW Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly MP, opened Sydney’s first natural burial ground on 17 June, saying that it offered a cheaper, more environmentally friendly choice for families when it came to farewelling loved ones.
Mr Kelly commended the Catholic Cemeteries Board’s initiative at St Francis Field, within the grounds of Kemps Creek Cemetery.
The field was blessed by Bishop Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney and Chairman of Catholic Earthcare Australia.
Minister Kelly said natural burial grounds responded to an emerging need within the community for an interment option more environmentally friendly than traditional burials or cremation.
Burials in St Francis Field will be in biodegradable coffins and will not be marked by traditional headstones – instead they are designed to blend back into the natural setting of the field.
This reduces the need for manicured grounds and reliance on chemicals – creating a low-carbon option.
Bishop Julian said that as Chairman of Catholic Earthcare he had a particular interest in this form of burial. “It combines a greater environmental consciousness together with respect for the dead,” he said.
“Some Catholics may have a sensitivity to an environmental cemetery but, in time, I believe they will grow to accept it. St Francis Field will be a place of memorial, remembrance and prayer.”
The latest GPS technology is used to ensure the location of the deceased is noted and recorded. At the front of the burial area there will be an acknowledgement of each person buried there in the form of a plaque. There will also be a place set aside for prayer and reflection.
Tenure is also limited to 30 years, with the option to renew if desired. In this way St Francis Field may become a sustainable burial ground for generations to come.
The Member for Liverpool, Paul Lynch MP, said natural burial grounds allowed cemeteries to be established with less impact on any remnant bushland.
“No doubt natural burial grounds will become a popular option for many families over time,” he said.
Mr Kelly said that the Government would continue to work with its Crown Cemetery Trusts in exploring more opportunities for natural burial grounds and other sustainable ways of managing the State’s cemeteries.
“Together with renewable tenure, natural burials are just other way of making better use of a scarce resource, while still maintaining a wide range of options to cater for the personal, cultural and religious preferences of Sydney’s diverse community,” Mr Kelly said.
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