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Woodland Burial at Oystermouth Cemetery

image depicting Woodland Burial at Oystermouth Cemetery

Oystermouth's woodland burial ground offers a natural alternative to conventional burial and cremation options.

Whilst woodland sites have been established already in various parts of Britain, this is the first of its kind in Swansea and South West Wales and there are many features associated with it that certainly make it unique.

Oystermouth's woodland site is managed as an area where new trees are planted to complement existing mature trees - all being allowed to flourish and remain, whilst also being able to accommodate burials. This approach reinforces the concept of life's regular renewal, and it offers the opportunity to contribute to the future quality and health of the natural environment, and in doing so to create a meaningful memorial to past lives. This can have a particular significance for those coming to terms with their own mortality or having to face the permanence of a loss they have experienced.

Each burial will help to enhance the woodland habitat whilst every woodland grave offers the opportunity for those departed to 'return to nature' and help contribute to the formation and preservation of a natural and beautiful woodland.

This service is available to people of all beliefs and denominations and encompasses funeral services and ceremonies, both religious and secular, and provides for the emotional and spiritual needs of the bereaved or of those who wish to plan for the future during their own lifetime.

The area is designed to allow visitors full appreciation of the natural beauty of the woodland while offering at the same time an appropriate environment for remembrance, meditation and quiet contemplation.


An increasing number of people are choosing to be buried in this environmentally friendly way and we advise the following for guideline purposes:

  • It is preferable that a coffin or casket made from natural material is used. This can include cardboard, wicker or wood, from a sustainable source, but does not include the standard chipboard or MDF coffin. A wool or cotton shroud could also be chosen.
  • We do not insist on the use of coffins. Families may choose a shroud and something practical to carry or contain the body to the woodland area, for example a stretcher or wicker basket.
  • Identification of the deceased must always be clearly visible and provided in the form of a name plate or small plaque made from a sustainable source i.e. wood, card board, paper etc.
  • It is preferable that the body is not embalmed (often called hygienic or cosmetic treatment by Funeral Directors).
  • Funeral wreaths should be kept to a minimum and if possible composed of earth friendly material rather than containing plastic, wire or oasis holders.
  • Mowing will be carried out by the Authority twice per year - once at the beginning of the growing season and once at the end - and we ask people not to cut any grass themselves. At times the area may be difficult to access when the grass is growing strongly.
  • No herbicides or chemicals will be used.

The area will be maintained by the Council very much in a low key manner; the minimal amount of mowing positively encourages and protects trees, shrubs and wildlife. Wild flowers will thereby be encouraged also and it must be emphasised that the traditional 'neat and tidy' appearance portrayed in other parts of Oystermouth Cemetery will not apply to this area.  Families are encouraged to consider this carefully before choosing woodland burial. Other areas of Oystermouth or other cemeteries offer traditional graves with regular memorial options.

All graves are recorded on a plan to allow for location in the future as and when the woodland further develops. Each grave will accommodate one coffin burial only, and/or burials of cremated remains. A lease is granted for each plot for 99 years. Granite or stone memorials are not permitted, though we try to ensure that families can express their grief in the way they feel most appropriate by offering the perfect environment for quiet contemplation and remembrance of loved ones.

Why green burial?

  • Kind to nature
  • No pollution
  • Pleasant surroundings
  • Celebrate a life by giving new life
  • Low maintenance or risk of neglect - nature will take care
  • Support wildlife
  • We all need trees

What does green burial offer?

  • Beautiful, natural surroundings
  • Peaceful but not isolated
  • Greater choice of type/style funeral
  • Use of natural materials
  • All graves will be prepared by hand

Woodland Burial through the year

Woodland planting can ensure a pleasant visual aspect all year round and can highlight the expectancy of seasonal trends and when different flowers can be anticipated, though at times it might appear that there is not much happening.

Winter to early spring, when there are no leaves on the trees, light levels on the woodland floor are good. The conditions are damp and as the soil starts to warm up the first flowers begin to show. Typical flowers at this time are snowdrops and wild daffodils, followed by wild primroses, violets and wood anemones.

During late spring, the soil is still moist and continues to warm up, daylight hours increase and the trees start to produce new leaves. The amount of light reaching the woodland floor is reduced, but is enough for shade tolerant varieties such as bluebells, wild arum and ground ivy.

As summer arrives, the trees are growing strongly and taking large amounts of moisture from the soil. The leaf cover continues to thicken rapidly to a point where much of the woodland floor is in shade. In these conditions only the shade loving plants will be seen. These include ferns and wood sage. The wild arum starts to show their berries. The woodland floor may have a 'bare' appearance at this time. On the edges of the woodland and where tree thinning has been carried out there is plenty of light for sun loving plants such as foxgloves, rosebay willow herb, red and white campion, nettles and bugle.

The reduction in daylight hours and lower air temperature starts the process of autumn colour and leaf drop. There are few woodland flowers visible in these conditions. Instead, various fungi can be seen along with berries, fruits and seeds.

Our woodland burial ground is part of an existing cemetery; dating back to 1883 when the first ever burial took place, the old memorials, monuments and statues represent a signified period of local history. The cemetery was extended in the 1930's which saw the introduction of a more modern lawn type section, with beautiful views over the bay of Mumbles. This setting is most appropriate for the occasion when the crew of Mumbles lifeboat lost their lives and are all buried in this part of the cemetery looking out to sea.

The woodland section is accessed via these traditional areas – a fact which many people have commented gives them a sense of reassurance that the woodland burial ground is not a remote site, but is part of a cemetery.

Trees are not planted on individual graves as this could result in an over-population. Instead, trees are planted where and when required and to provide as much cover and colour all year round.


Oystermouth Cemetery Supervisor (Andy Parsons) tel.no: 07980 721559

Cost of Woodland Burial, Depth for One (Apr 2013 - Mar 2014) = £755

Purchase of Wooden Marker for single grave (Apr 2013 – Mar 2014) = £80





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Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea. SA1 3SN. Tel: 01792 636000 Fax: 01792 636340