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Pending successful planning we have secured a very special place to create Northern Ireland’s first woodland burial ground. Many graveyards in Northern Ireland have a deep sense of history, lend themselves to reflection and seem to blend naturally into the landscape. We want to build on this tradition of sensitivity with the past and harmony with nature. In a few decades the land we develop as a woodland burial site will be a beautiful forest, a natural memorial that is protected in perpetuity. 

Who we are?

A group of people who are committed to developing the first woodland burial site in Northern Ireland. We are Gill McNeill, James Orr, Elizabeth Rice, Catherine McWilliams, Sheena Bradley, Ciara Campbell-Crawford and Miriam Shields. What we also share is a search for meaning or ritual and a deep sense of responsibility to nature. We have no ideological or religious agenda and are bound together by a desire to do the right thing for people who are going through a loss and to restore land to ecological health. Some of us have a faith (part of the woodland burial site can be consecrated if people wish) others do not. We have a background in ecology, green business, arts, crafts and marketing. We share a concern that conventional funerals are unnecessarily expensive and that: land should not become poisoned  and polluted; funerals should be personalised; the natural aesthetics of a graveyard should convey beauty and tranquillity.

 What is not appropriate in a woodland burial site

90% of coffins are made from chipboard material with fake plastic handles. Chemicals in the coffins contaminate the land and can leach toxins into streams and lakes. Plastics do not break down naturally. We will not allow these coffins in our burial ground. In addition, embalming fluids are currently very toxic and not appropriate although we are actively looking for non-toxic alternatives. We also feel that imported granite surrounds and headstones involve damaging quarrying with miners paid slave wages in many poorer parts of the world. We will avoid any unnatural material as we want the graveyard to become a natural forest.

What is appropriate

Native trees (such as yew, ash, oak, hawthorn, apple, rowan and hazel) and native wildflowers will cover the site. Each site can be individually marked using biodegradable material. Precise locations of graves will be identified using a GPS system. Any water bodies will be protected from contamination using reed beds. Coffins will be made from bio-degradeable materials. We will also attempt to dig graves by hand and use non-motorised transport on the site.

How did we acquire the land

Our shareholders in the society; each invested £800 to purchase withdrawable shares, also known as community shares. These people are members and jointly share a long term woodland commitment which will be legally restricted for the sole purpose of native woodland planting. This land is held in trust and Down to Earth (NI) Limited will manage the funeral business on this land. Trust and ethics will be guaranteed. The landowner supports our ethos and wants to work with us closely. We are fully aware of the need for planning permission but do not consider this to be an obstacle.

How you can get involved?

If you are considering supporting Down to Earth NI please register your interest. We may have a further share offer in the future but we also plan a crowd-funding venture to enable tree planting when the time comes.

If you are a landowner?

Please CONTACT US and we will arrange a site meeting.