Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Monday, 7 June 2010 16:56 UK
Natural burial 'the way forward' with graveyards scarce
Sheep at Usk Castle Chase burial ground
Sheep graze the land at Usk Castle Chase natural burial ground

A businessman in south Wales believes that natural burial sites could help to solve the increasing scarcity of graveyard space.

The Church in Wales and politicians have warned of a 'ticking time bomb'.

James Leedam, who runs two natural burial sites in the Cardiff and Usk areas, is in partnership with farmers who continue to graze their land.

"The whole idea is for the scenery, for the landscape, to remain the same for generations to come", said James.

James Leedam

"It's a sustainable alternative to the cemetery. It's not going to suit everybody, but I think it's just getting the word out there that there is an alternative to queuing at the crematorium," he added.

The amount of burial space left in Wales varies from area to area, with the urban, populated areas in south Wales feeling the most pressure.

In Cardiff, an extension at Thornhill Cemetery and a planned extension at Western Cemetery will add another two decades of space at the current rate of burial.

Yet James's site in Usk alone has capacity for up to another 3000 burials.

Since opening in September 2005, 115 people have been buried there, and 250 plots have been sold.

In addition to this level of capacity, maintenance costs are greatly reduced compared to those of traditional cemeteries and graveyards.

The cost of mowing a graveyard can reach £1000 and the Church in Wales, which has a large stock of graveyards, is struggling to keep up with such costs.

"The sheep do our lawn mowing and they're the future", said James.

"This piece of land will be productive for generations to come. The pasture is vital to its future."

If you're after a headstone however, you'll be disappointed. Both burial sites look no different to the farm land surrounding them.

The only indication that people are buried there are the memorial structures at the edge of the field.

Vicars face graveyard 'hostility'
07 Jun 10 |  Wales
Church warns of 'burial crisis'
21 Apr 10 |  Wales
Graves shortage 'reaching crisis'
06 Apr 05 |  Wales
New county cemetery 'too costly'
30 Mar 10 |  North east


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