The Dutch national organization for cemetery management (Landelijke Organisatie van Begraafplaatsen, or LOB) reports the number of nature burials – burials in an unmarked and untended plot which will return to a natural landscape – has increased by 500% in the last six years.
Around 1,500 people chose to be buried in a natural setting last year compared to 250 in 2013. LOB representative Wim van Midwoud says in AD that around 100,000 people are cremated in the Netherlands each year, while 50,000 are conventionally buried.
LOB explains that “Among other things, people choose a natural cemetery because the body is allowed to lie here indefinitely…” Van Midwoud says people may also be drawn to the ‘maintenance-free’ aspect of a natural grave.
Money is also a factor in the surge of popularity as the cost to lease a traditional grave plot can be as high as €7,000 for a 30-year lease, whereas a natural burial involves a one-off payment which is usually no more than €5,000.
AD reports that around 14 Dutch cemeteries with natural landscapes currently offer the option for a natural burial service.