Date of Award
This Master’s project investigates the green burial movement and its relevance as a tool for land conservation organizations. This movement has the potential to change the standard cemetery landscape in the United States by informing consumers of alternative practices and materials that support natural environmental processes and sustainable land management practices. Until a decade ago, the green burial movement had largely taken place at the community and individual level. It is now an established and growing national movement with certifying organizations, standards and practices, and strategic goals. Opportunities exist within this movement to develop partnerships between the burial grounds and land trust organizations and in doing so, create burial areas that are protected in perpetuity and sustainably managed.
This project asks: What motivations and perceptions do the conservation burial grounds (CBGs) have of the Green Burial Council’s certification process? What forms do partnerships between burial grounds and land trusts take? What are the views of land trust organizations on developing partnerships or otherwise engaging with the green burial movement? What is the role of conservation burial in the green burial movement? Vermont Land Trust has expressed interest in learning more about green burial to better understand whether their organization (a state-wide land trust) is interested in a conservation burial partnership at this time. This project provides background information to contribute to decisions made by the Vermont Land Trust.
In this project, information was gathered from CBG operators and land trust organizations through interviews. Interview transcripts were coded and analyzed to identify thematic trends. The results of this analysis indicate that conservation burial plays a relatively small, but key role in the green burial movement. Currently operating conservation burial grounds identified ecological and land use expertise, outreach, and operational support as benefits of having a partnership with a land trust. Partnerships came in different forms and ranged from closely interlinked management to occasional interactions. Data from individuals from land trusts indicate an interest in conservation burial as a sustainable land use tool, but a hesitancy to commit to a project that requires many resources and may result in mission creep.
Berdan, Katherine B., "Master's Project: The Green Burial Movement & Conservation Burial Grounds" (2021). Rubenstein School Masters Project Publications. 25.