A leading public health expert has been demanding a strategic program to create green burial corridors together with main transport routes as British graveyards and cemeteries are quickly running out of space.
In England and Wales, around 500,000 deaths occur every year. It is expected that there will be no burial space left within five years.
Reporting in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor John Ashton mentions the latest announcement of a scheme to plant 130,000 trees in urban areas as a part of mitigating global warming and pollution. He reports that although this lacks in aspiration, it offers a hint as to what might be possible by connecting the dots of green environmentalism and human burial.
According to Prof Ashton, the human health impacts and environmental effects of the materials and fluids used in coffins and embalming is a matter of increasing interest and concern. It also reverberates with the recent step toward simpler funeral strategies—green funerals with biodegradable regalia and coffins in woodland regions.
He added that with little possibility of finding burial space for those who search for it, there is a real chance of stepping up to the grade as bravely as the Victorians did with the Metropolitan Burial Act of 1852.
A glimpse of what might be possible with political will and imagination can be seen by what has happened alongside long-forgotten canals by neglect and default where wildlife corridors have evolved over time. It is time to revisit the public health roots of human burial and connect them to a new vision for a planet fit for future generations.
Professor John Ashton