Why burying loved ones in unmarked graves could save wildlife

 作者:巫马冰     |      日期:2019-03-04 08:12:00
By Alice Klein NEW “conservation burials” could help raise billions of dollars for wildlife. Traditional burials contaminate soil with embalming chemicals and are also expensive. Natural burials instead use biodegradable coffins and maintain the surrounding landscape. Loved ones can find the site using GPS or natural landmarks. The latest twist on natural burial is conservation burial. Tracts of land are turned into burial sites that double as refuges for endangered species. Ramsey Creek Preserve in South Carolina is one such site. Bodies are buried in a forest and planted over with endangered native species like crested coralroot orchids. The park also protects coyotes and black bears. After the death of a close friend, mathematician Matthew Holden at the University of Queensland in Australia calculated that if the 1.2 million people buried traditionally in the US each year had natural burials instead, it would amount to spending $3.8 billion on conservation (Conservation Letters, doi.org/cfw6). For comparison, reducing the risk to all threatened species on land would cost $4 billion a year (Science, doi.org/mg6). Although there are now hundreds of natural burial sites in the US, UK and Australia, only a handful are dedicated conservation sites. There are currently seven in the US and two in the UK, with a handful due to open in Australia from 2018. “People are looking to create some sort of tangible legacy, which is why we spend all this money on fancy coffins and tombstones,” says Holden. That money could instead provide a conservation legacy. “The prime appeal of a natural burial is the return of the body to a living space that isn’t full of headstones and granite,” says Kevin Hartley at Earth Funerals, a not-for-profit in Australia. “Extending that – knowing it will lead to another acre of missing habitat being restored – it’s just lovely.” This article appeared in print under the headline “How burying loved ones can save wildlife” Leader: