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The Tree Bury for Recall

Author: Cate Newnessmith
Published Date: 20 February 2008

The “tree bury” proposes planting a tree as a form of both symbolic and actual burial, burying the ashes of the dead and planting a tree over it. The cemetery plot becomes a green park, helping both the environment and solving a social issue in an innovative way.


'The tree bury' is a new approach to funerals, where the issue of land use for cemetery plots is turned into an environmental benefit. It satisfies the need to provide a resting place for the deceased (and the families that have lost a beloved one) and at the same time, improves the existence of the living, through the environmental benefit of having a cemetery as a green park. The 'tree bury' proposes planting a tree as a form of both symbolic and actual burial, burying the ashes of the dead and planting a tree over it. The cemetery plot becomes a green park, helping both the environment and solving a social issue in an innovative way.


In China,landis at a premium and with an ageing population an increasing amount of land is used for burial every year. Tree bury is a social innovation to solve this problem of land shortage. It has been promoted in places like Peking, Tienjin, Shanghai, Nanking, Guangzhou, and iseasy to promote since it is a symbolicway of continuing life.The tree is the symbol of the great universe. By spreading the ashes under a tree root, the person's life can continue in the tree, representing a 'return' to the great universe.


Tree bury reduces the land use for graveyards and contributes to environmental regeneration with an increase in green park areas. It also avoids the increase of building related to graveyards (tombstone, towers, pavement, etc) and saves landfor other purposes. Withless spending on materials related to funeral and graveyard, (timber and stone materials), the expenses related to funeral and maintenance of graves (for the family and the state) is decreased, i.e. the tree bury costs between one tenth and one twentieth of the traditional graves maintenance.


The project has been supported and advertised by the government and has been receiving extremely positive feedbacks from society at large. It appears to have enormous potential for further development and spread.