HEREFORDSHIRE’S first green burial ground has reached a milestone with its 500th burial.

Humber Woodland of Remembrance is set in open countryside four miles from Leominster, and has been transformed from the arable field it once was into a native woodland.

Before it opened in 2003, over 1,600 trees were planted and these now give shape to the young woodland and shelter to the new trees, which continue to be planted as burials take place.

In addition to trees, graves are marked by the planting of native wildflowers.

When Diane Thomas opened Humber Woodland in 2003, there were not many burial sites of its kind in the country, with green burial a relatively new, but growing concept in the UK.

It is intended to fill the need for an alternative, environmentally sensitive form of burial, where graves are marked by trees or wild flowers, rather than headstones.

Diane said: "With the recent COP26 Climate Summit in mind, we should all be thinking of how we can reduce our impact on the environment. Green burial is considered to be a more environmentally friendly option and we believe it is preferable to be buried in a simple, environmentally friendly coffin in a beautiful and peaceful place.

"If a tree is also planted over the grave, this helps to absorb some of the harmful pollutants in the atmosphere."

A shelter was built on the site in March 2020 just as Covid hit the UK, and it has allowed families to hold services onsite in all weather.

It has been especially useful during the last 18 months as restrictions have made indoor funeral services difficult, Diane said.

"We have so much space here," she said.

"Families can be socially distanced outside, taking as much time as they need. We are guided by each family and try to support them through a difficult time as best we can’.