Natural burial is something old and new; It is a return to the traditional practices of our ancestors.
In the Herland Forest there’s no embalming; people return to the earth as they lived. There are no expensive caskets; just a simple pine box, or a linen winding sheet, or nothing at all. There’s no concrete vault, just woodchips and daffodils.
Herland’s vision of natural burial encompasses death-care practices that support the natural process of returning to the biosphere. Through natural burial, a person’s body becomes part of the landscape and nourishes the new life that sustains the birds and animals that call the forest home.
From Conservation to Stewardship
Natural burial is also way for people to guard land against destructive development. In Washington state, when human bodies are interred on a piece of cemetery land, that land becomes legally protected from commercial development in perpetuity. This is a key way that natural burial cemeteries are being harnessed in support of conservation, restoration and the stewardship of semi-wild land
In the case of Herland Forest, our goal is to expand the Cemetery property in the future, bringing more Ponderosa pine, Doublas fir and Oregon White oak woodlands under our stewardship. Herland Forest’s practice is one of partnering with these ecosystems to integrate human needs with the needs of the forest.
Funds received for interment rights and burial expenses support the Forest’s well-being via establishing beneficial plants, aiding the trees’ resiliency against fire, and by enhancing wildlife habitat.
Honoring Life’s Transitions
Our vision of natural burial also incorporates space for families to develop their own rituals, ceremonies, and rites of passage surrounding death. Herland Forest embraces the opportunity to practice these acts of celebration and mourning in a forest that will grow and flourish with new life nourished by loved ones. We believe that creating new funeral traditions are an essential part of forging a new life-affirming relationship with death.
We are passionate leaders in the fields of restoration ecology, steward and “green” burial. A central mission of the Herland Forest is to utilize regenerative land use practices to both provide for human needs and preserve the healthy functioning of the ecosystem. We hold a deep commitment to to learning from this land and as such undertake to fully explore the environmental benefits which flow from whole body interment.
A Final Contribution
In our daily lives, it can be difficult to find meaningful avenues to serve the natural world. Natural burial offers individuals a way to realize the truly life-giving potential of death, a chance to honor and re-enter the natural cycles of life, and an opportunity to celebrate that passage with loved ones in a beautiful and meaningful forest setting.
For generations to come, this cemetery will be protected from development, and will provide a quiet, natural place to sustain a vibrant and productive transitional ecosystem. The visionary people who chose to use their remains to protect the forest are making a powerful statement that there’s no trespassing on this land.
We are grateful for the opportunity to provide a way for people to make a final contribution for the renewal of the earth. And we hope that you too will become a Guardian of the Herland Forest.