It’s a lofty goal: Conserve 1,000,000 acres of land through conservation burial. This was (and still is ) the vision of Billy and Kimberly Campbell – the founders of the conservation burial movement and the owners of the very first conservation burial ground, Ramsey Creek Preserve, which opened in 1996, in Westminster, South Carolina. That was over 20 years ago and there are now nine Green Burial Council certified Conservation Burial Grounds in the US, which includes Carolina Memorial Sanctuary. Nine is not enough. To help encourage and promote conservation burial, members of the existing conservation burial grounds have joined together, with the help of some allies, to form the Conservation Burial Alliance – because the need to push this forward is great.
As the population continues to rise, natural resources become more scarce, and global climate change is happening before our very eyes – the need to protect, restore, and preserve land is more important now than ever. In addition to environmental threats, another problem facing the US is the fractured relationship we have with death; we have become distanced from death and our culture does not teach us how to handle and prepare for one of the most important life events that ALL of us will face. Our general reluctance to talk about and face death has major implications: financial, emotional, psychological, physical, familial, and spiritual. A radical shift is needed in how we relate to and handle death. Luckily, old practices that connect us back to death in a more holistic way are returning. The natural burial movement is one of these ways.
Conservation Burial is where land conservation and natural burial meet and why the conservation burial movement is so important. Conservation burial provides meaningful and family focused burial practices that are mindful of the earth while conserving land. This fueled a group of us to start the Conservation Burial Alliance – so that we can provide the service of natural burial to our communities while protecting and restoring precious land.
The Conservation Burial Alliance seeks to promote conservation burial and help enable other groups and individuals to start future conservation burial grounds. We are working to create rigorous standards and best practices based on peer reviewed scientific research. We are adverse to greenwashing and seek to hold ourselves and future conservation burial grounds to strict standards with regards to cemetery operations and care of the land. We are committed to caring for the earth, our communities, and the families and individuals who come to us in their time of need.
The founding members of the CBA consist of eight of the nine current conservation burial grounds and two advocate partners: Landmatters – a land trust consultancy firm, and Lee Webster – a leading figure in funeral reform and activism. (Links and info for the founding members below.) We first met on retreat in September of 2018 and it was magical; the synergy of the group and ease we felt with one another was very atypical. And we laughed… A LOT! A positive sign to the work we will be able to accomplish together. This year, 2019, we will launch the Conservation Burial Alliance website and start building the foundation of the conservation burial movement. We look forward to adding additional members and partners in the future.
Billy’s goal to conserve 1,000,000 acres of land inspires us and is a major reason we started Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, the first Conservation Burial Ground in North Carolina. That and our deep love of our community and desire to provide a deeply meaningful way of burial. We are excited to be a part of this movement. 1,000,000 acres may be a lofty goal, but we want to make the world a better place and the Conservation Burial Alliance is a worthy pursuit to provide the healing benefits of natural burial while conserving natural resources.
Conservation Burial Alliance Founding Members
Conservation Burial Grounds:
- Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, North Carolina | Caroline Yongue and Cassie Barrett
- Foxfield Preserve, Ohio | Sara Brink
- Heartwood Preserve Conservation Cemetery, Florida | Laura Starkey
- Kokosing Nature Preserve, Ohio | Amy Henricksen
- Larkspur Conservation, Tennessee | John Christian Phifer
- Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, Florida | Freddie Johnson and David Ponoroff
- Ramsey Creek Preserve, South Carolina | Billy and Kimberley Campbell
- White Eagle Memorial Preserve Cemetery, Washington | Jodie Buller
- Landmatters | Heidi Hannapel and Jeff Masten
- NH Funeral Resources Education & Advocacy | Lee Webster
If you’re interested in supporting or becoming a future member of the Conservation Burial Alliance, contact Landmatters.