Mon, Aug 29, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Tree burials help conserve space

GREEN INTERMENT To help preserve land, Taipei City is encouraging people to have their ashes buried in flower beds or among tree roots in a park in the Wenshan District


More than a year since the Taipei City Government began promoting "tree burial," more than 300 people have chosen the unconventional form of interment.

The Taipei Mortuary Services Office said it plans to expand a burial park set aside for such burials -- where people's ashes can be spread among tress and flowers -- and that it hopes the environmentally-friendly method of burial will be accepted by more people in the future.

The office held a tree burial memorial service at Fu De Burial Park yesterday to honor the dead and once again introduce the idea of tree burials to the public.

At the memorial service, Taipei City Social Welfare Department Director Hsueh Cheng-tai (薛承泰) said that tree burials, along with sea burials, are another unconventional form of interment the city has been promoting since 2003, and could help land-starved Taipei continue to take care of the dead with a touch of humanity.

"The idea of a tree burial or sea burial is based on environmental and land availability concerns. We hope they will serve as a suitable alternative to traditional interment and replace complicated funeral services," Hsueh said.

Currently, the city's tree burials take place in Fu De Burial Park in Wenshan District, where bone ashes are buried around the roots of trees, or underground with flowers and trees planted over them. The name of the deceased is written on a praying card, which is hung on the tree. The office keeps all of the names and background information of those buried this way in its computer records.

The park also provides a "flower burial" service, in which bone ashes are scattered around flowering trees. Several varieties of trees, including Bodhi trees, osmanthus trees and willows have been planted in the park.

According to the office, 327 people have chosen a tree burial, with 10 selecting to have a flower burial.

Most of the deceased buried in the park were of a younger age and of the Christian or Catholic faith, the office said.

Because growing numbers of people chosing one of the two forms of interment, the office said that it plans to expand the park to four hectares.

It also intends to plant more trees to make it the most beautiful memorial service park in Taiwan, the office said.

Taipei City's promotion of alternative burials is part of the government's efforts to simplify traditional funeral service rites, while making them more innovative and efficient.

The Statute of Funeral and Interment Management (殯葬管理條例), introduced by the Ministry of Interior in 2002 to regulate the funeral-service industry, also promoted sea burials and tree burials.

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