South Africans now have the chance to be conservation-conscious even after death, thanks to the opening of what is apparently the country’s first eco-cemetery.
Wiesenhof Legacy Park was officially opened this week at South Africa’s oldest privately owned nature reserve, in the foothills of the Simonsberg mountains, about 12km from Stellenbosch.
According to the team behind legacy park, eco-burials and eco-cemeteries have gradually become more popular than typical funerals and cemeteries in places such as the US and Europe.
Willie Fouche, Wiesenhof Legacy Park chief executive, said:
“The legacy park is a more natural alternative to traditional cemeteries, burials or cremation, and a safer, more tranquil place for family members to remember their loved ones.”
Although remaining a nature reserve, the park has set aside a portion of its 300 hectares for burial and remembrance sites.
A total of 100ha is zoned agricultural.
Werner Fouche, the park’s chief operations officer, said 80 percent of that agricultural land was “low agricultural-value ground”.
This areas was what would be set aside for the eco- cemetery.
The legacy park has four dams, mountain views and game, all of which people will have access to when they pay their respects to late family members and friends, the park’s managers say.
People choose a plot, then decide whether to bury or scatter the ashes there.
Ashes are scattered with wildflower seeds so that field flowers will bloom every season. Trees can be planted in remembrance or in celebration of a special occasion or milestone.
The cemetery has eco-friendly caskets made from a variety of natural products, including seagrass, leaves of coconut palms and paper.
Werner Fouche said there was controlled access and security at the park.
lAn ash interment at the legacy park will cost about R7 500, and a typical funeral interment between R20 000 and R25 000.