In the South
A Central Otago sustainable living enthusiast is proposing natural cemeteries in the district for ''environmentally friendly farewells''.
Lynne Stewart, of Clyde, said ''green funerals'' involved people being buried without having been embalmed, in non-polluting and biodegradable caskets made from, for example, wool.
Their burial site would be marked with a tree, instead of a headstone.
The result would be parks which had flourishing flora, due to shallower graves and the natural decomposition process.
''It would be so good to have parks we could go to and enjoy, which are not spooky with lots of headstones all over the place.
The Natural Death Centre was founded in London in 1991 and, since then, natural cemeteries had been established throughout the world, she said.
In New Zealand, they had been developed at Makara, near Wellington, Otaki on the Kapiti Coast, New Plymouth, Motueka and Blenheim, among other places.
Development of a natural cemetery was also under way in Christchurch.
Ms Stewart suggested the idea in a submission on the Central Otago District Council's 2013-14 annual plan.
The council said it would consider establishing a natural cemetery, if there was demand.
Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme sustainable living programme co-ordinator, Clair Higginson, said the idea was raised several years ago.
She said, since then, other New Zealand local authorities had established natural cemeteries and the idea might be discussed at this year's annual Thyme Festival, held in Alexandra from November 9 to 17.
The topic could be included in a series of ''lunchtime conversations'' at the festival, focusing on whether or not people wanted a natural cemetery, the requirements of establishing such a site, and any complications and implications.
Council parks officer Geoff King said research into natural burials had been carried out and the information would be given to the district's community boards to consider when cemeteries were developed in the future.
The Alexandra cemetery plan was scheduled to be updated by the Vincent Community Board during the next year or so, and the future of the district's other cemeteries would also be considered when the relevant management plans expired.
It was already possible to bury someone ''naturally,'' or not embalmed, in the district's cemeteries, Mr King said.
- The Mirror