Funeral Forests: Bridges between two worlds

Bernasconi, A. 2019. Book of Abstracts of the 21th conference of EFUF, p.54

Spiritual forest spaces have a rising importance in society. One example of this trend is the funeral forest. In Switzerland only 10% of the deceased are still buried in a coffin, it is common to spread or bury the departed’s ashes (Donner 2018). Between 2009 and 2013 in Germany the number of tree burials doubled up to 45’000 per year (Bauer und Schraml 2018).

Funeral forests are sacred places, grounded on two Cultural Ecosystem Services (CES) of outstanding importance: (a) spiritual and religious meaning and (b) a space of long duration, linking ancestors with nature. As CES are linked to symbolic meaning, they cannot be explained by the functioning of Ecosystems alone
(Kirchhoff 2018).

Funeral forests are attractive examples for practitioners as well as for researchers: the object of interest – a single tree – can be considered at the same time as a topic of the ecological world (as well as a symbol of people’s expectations. Forest management measures therefore bridge two worlds and sustain natural as well
as social values.

Bernasconi, A. 2019. Funeral Forests: Bridges between two worlds Book of Abstracts of the 21th conference of EFUF (European Forum on Urban Forestry), p.54

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