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Association of Natural Burial Grounds

An introduction

The Association of Natural Burial Grounds (ANBG) was established by The Natural Death Centre in 1994. Its aims and objects have remained unchanged.

By requiring members to comply with our Code of Conduct the ANBG provides the public with the assurance of best practice at every one of our member sites.

We also assist individuals in the process of establishing new natural burial grounds, provide guidance to existing burial ground operators and represent our members as a whole.

Our former manager, Mike Jarvis, was a major contributor to  - and helped to write - the defining document 'Natural Burial Grounds, Guidance for Operators', published in 2009 by the Ministry of Justice, which sets out best practice for natural burial ground management, and we sit on the policy advisory group to the government, the Burial and Cemeteries Advisory Group which meets at the MoJ twice a year.

To find your nearest natural burial ground please click here


A brief history

The opening of the first natural burial ground in the UK was an innovative move by the great Ken West MBE, at Carlisle in May 1993. Ken is the author of 'A Guide to Natural Burial', and is widely recognised as the country's leading expert in the movement. His vision and insight continues to inspire, and at the NDC we are honoured to have him as a friend and mentor.

Over twenty years after the natural burial ground opened in Carlisle there are now over 270 sites around the country, all with individual characters and differences. Just over half are run by local authorities, the remainder being run by landowners such as farmers, charitable trusts and non-profit organisations.

The burial grounds not only vary in their ownership, but they also vary in their plans for land management - not all have tree planting schemes, for example. Most offer families the chance to choose a grave in advance of the time of need, but some will not.

Of the 270 plus burial grounds on The Natural Death Centre database, the majority of the privately-run sites are members of the ANBG, as are some local authority owned sites. We have members as far afield as the Highlands of Scotland and the west of Cornwall.


Humber Woodland of Remembrance


What we do

One of our most important roles is as an independent monitor of our member sites.

We require our members to provide families with our Feedback Form, and these are returned directly to the Natural Death Centre, giving us invaluable insight into the services provided by each member. Any problems raised are instantly responded to directly with the site operator, while positive remarks, compliments and personal testimonies confirm that the member concerned is continuing to provide an exceptional service.

For our individual members, the Association also provides a source of help and guidance with regard to all planning and other regulatory hurdles. This can range from advice as to how to conduct public consultation meetings to introductions to specialist professionals in legal, land and property and ecological fields.

The ANBG regularly advises members on matters as diverse as the percentage of plot sales income that should be put in a sinking fund for long-term land management to the availability of specialist funerary items. There are members meetings regularly, and a  a newsletter following ANBG meeting and any important updates of interest and relevance to NBG operations. The ANBG Google Group provides an online forum where members can share ideas, news and experiences.


 Atlantic Rest Natural Burial

Representing our members

The ANBG can be particularly effective when it represents its members as a whole. It is a staunch supporter of their individualism, but sometimes their comparative lack of size in the wide commercial world could make them vulnerable if the ANBG were not there to fight their corner.

The ANBG negotiated on behalf of members with the Government's Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to establish a set of guidelines with regard to a new scheme for assessment of natural burial grounds for business rates.

Prior to our negotiations the VOA had sought to treat natural burial grounds as cemeteries under another name. As a result of our lengthy dialogue, there is now a published scheme which far more accurately reflects the finances of their situation.

So successful was this united approach that some sites have already seen their assessments reduced by as much as 88%. One, indeed, has been reduced to a nominal £1.

 Tithe Green Natural Burial



Promoting best practice

The Natural Death Centre and the ANBG itself is seen as the first port of call by many journalists seeking information on natural burial and the provision that is available.

This gives the opportunity to stress a very important part of the ANBG's role: that of publishing, promoting and upholding the Code of Conduct which our members adhere to and which is designed with the interests of the public in mind.

The Code of Conduct includes requirements concerning flora and fauna conservation, the use of biodegradable coffins, guarantees as to long-term financial security measures, the use of fully itemised price lists and a formal complaints procedure.

It also requires that members must allow families to organise a funeral themselves, without the services of a funeral director, if they so wish.


Government consultation and liaison

The Natural Death Centre (and thus the ANBG) is a prominent charity often consulted by government departments, and we regularly respond to and comment on initiatives to do with death and dying. 

ANBG Members are kept up to date with the latest news and guidance either generated by ourselves or outside organisations such as the Ministry of Justice.

We sit on the advisory committee to the MOJ which meets twice annually, and provide input from the natural burial sector to the Burial and Cremation Advisory Group.


Complaints handling

Under the ANBG Code of Conduct, members are required to establish a formal complaints handling procedure. This should include internal investigation of complaints in the first instance and a higher level review of the complaint if the matter is not resolved.

If the complaint continues to remain unresolved, the ANBG will undertake an independent review of the case and provide our findings in writing.


Joining the ANBG

If you are interested in becoming a member of the ANBG please read all the information here.

Please note, for existing burial ground operators, membership is graded according to the number of plot sales in the previous 12 months.

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The New Natural Death Handbook fifth edition is out now, this book is a must read for everyone. Completely revised and expanded into a boxed set of three books... Read more

Credit to Will Whipple (photographer)



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