Solving Our Shortage of Cemetery Space

White headstones in a cemetery.

Solving Our Shortage of Cemetery Space

It seems crazy that in a country the size of Australia cemetery space could ever be in short supply, but in many parts of the country it’s already an issue and immediate solutions are required to address the problem. The shortage of cemetery space is mostly concentrated in major cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, but even some regional towns are running out of cemetery space for burials and local town planners and government officials are looking for suitable solutions.

An Ongoing Issue

The shortage of cemetery space that Australia is currently experiencing has been going on for some time now as booming demand for burial plots, especially in cities, has increased in line with population growth. While cremation has been popular in Australia since the 1950s, it hasn’t decreased the demand for cemetery space and is also considered environmentally irresponsible by many Australians today.

As each cremation releases a myriad of toxins and around 50 kilograms of CO2, and each cremation also uses as much energy as the average person consumes in a month, it’s understandable why environmentally-conscious Australians are looking for less damaging options for their passing, like natural burials.

The Burial Belt

While burials occupy space that’s in short supply in Australian cities and towns, ‘natural burials’ are a more environmentally-friendly option than energy and pollution-intense cremations, and part of a new proposal called ‘Burial Belt’.

The natural burials proposed in this new plan to create nearly unlimited burial space differ from traditional burials in a number of ways, including reforesting cleared land rather than clearing land to build a cemetery space, and planting trees to mark burial sites instead of headstones. The other major difference between natural burials and traditional burials is that the body is placed directly in contact with the soil (usually wrapped in an organic shroud or cardboard coffin) so microbes can complete the process of returning the body to the earth.

But where will the space for these natural cemeteries come from? Town planning officials and urban development professionals have already identified suitable space for future burial-parklands conveniently located just beyond our towns and cities. This space already exists, usually in the form of the pastures and agricultural land that’s increasingly turned into high-density suburbs.

With smart urban planning and development that prevents this land from being rezoned and turned into more suburbs, and is instead earmarked for natural burial spaces, we would succeed in slowing urban sprawl while also protecting our local wildlife and vegetation. If managed correctly by both local government and private operators, adjoining sections of reforested land could eventually be combined into a single Burial Belt that not only brings urban sprawl to a halt, but also protects bushland and agricultural land in the long-term.

Urban development is necessary for the economic growth and high living standards we expect as Australians, but we also need to address important issues like the shortage of cemetery space when developing pastoral and agricultural lands on the outskirts of our towns and cities for subdivision and housing developments. Contact Arnold Development Consultants to speak with a consultant about the requirements of your project.