The Church in Wales owns 1,053 burial grounds
Church leaders have warned of a "burial crisis" in Wales and claim that £16m is needed to maintain church graves.
The Church in Wales owns 1,053 burial grounds which are maintained by parochial parish councils.
With two-thirds of graveyards set to run out of space in 10 years, the Church wants help from the assembly government and local authorities.
The assembly government said graveyard maintenance was a matter for the Church.
The Church in Wales said a co-ordinated approach to providing and managing burial grounds across Wales was needed to prevent the crisis.
It proposed that once closed for burials, churchyards should be maintained at public expense by community councils or local authorities, as is the case in England.
CHURCH IN WALES PLANS FOR GRAVES
Once closed for burials, churchyards should be maintained at public expense by community councils or local authorities, as is the case in England
A Government Commission be set up to develop a coordinated and planned approach to providing and maintaining burial space between all providers
Discussion takes place to explore ideas for looking after closed churchyards
An additional burial fee be charged to fund the maintenance of closed churchyards
Alex Glanville, head of property services for the Church in Wales, warned that without help, churchyards across Wales would fall into disrepair.
He said: "The majority of churchyards will soon be full. Maintenance is generally good at present but there is significant repair liability which cannot be met by existing resources.
"Churchyards are a unique repository of information about our past and provide the story of the Welsh nation. Without help, this precious resource will deteriorate yet further."
The Church in Wales said income from burials did not cover the costs of looking after graveyards.
Two-thirds are cared for mostly by volunteers who give, on average, 13 hours each month. That makes up 125,000 hours of volunteer time across Wales, equivalent to £1.3m of paid labour, it is claimed.
The Church said that work in churchyards in Wales was estimated at £16m, with just £3.6m held in reserves to meet these costs.
A quarter of the burial grounds are full and 43% have fewer than 20 burial spaces left.
The Church said it discouraged the extension of churchyards unless there was long-term financial support.
A spokeswoman for the Welsh Assembly Government said maintenance of burial grounds was a matter for the Church.
She added: "The transfer of responsibility for the maintenance of closed churchyards to local authorities, as in England, would require a change in legislation.
"Local authorities already have powers under section 214 of the Local Government Act 1972 to provide funding to assist the Church in Wales or others who provide burial grounds in Wales, but there is no obligation upon them to do so."
The assembly government said it had encouraged the Church and local government to work together to solve the problem.
The spokeswoman said it would consider any approach from the Church in Wales.
The Welsh Local Government Association has been asked to comment.