Coming back to the roots – forest graveyard as a business

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Powrót do korzeni – cmentarz jako biznes.

This year in March, I was able to visit very interesting and inspiring place. I saw first time in my life a legal graveyard in the beautiful oak forest, located in Reinhardswald, next to Gottingen and Hann. Munden in Lower Saxony, Germany. The most surprising was for me the business model of this place, its marketing and also prices. Check it out!

Together with other foresters from Europe, the local forester from Germany showed us how the forest cemetery in Lower Saxony is managed. The “Friedwald” company is leasing beautiful oak forest from local community  and in consequence it is responsible for the management and funeral organization in this place. For people who know German, please find leaflet below. I will try briefly translate key information from the leaflet (after you download pics the quality is much better to read).

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I have found the most interesting information in the section „Ein Baum in FriedWald” and „Ein Platz im FriedWald”, what means prices for buying whole funeral tree or just only one spot under the tree respectively. To be clear, people are graved in urns under trees.
You are able to buy a whole tree for the family, next to which three is possibility to grave up to 10 urns. Urns are buried in the ground around 1.5 meters from the tree. You are not buying tree, but you are leasing it for the next 99 years. The prices for a tree vary and they depend mostly on tree condition, its health, artistic form (shape, bark texture, species) and what most important in the business – its location (location, location and location).

What are the prices for a tree?

Depending on the factors described shortly above, the prices vary between 2700 and 6350 Euros! Assuming that healthy oak over 140 years old has 10 cubic meters, we can easily calculate that price per cubic meter, which is between 270 and 6350 Euros, what definitely is higher than wood market offers. And what most important, the tree is further standing, no harvest. If we assume that there is around 250 trees per hectare, taking average tree price, we are getting quite nice number equal to 1.13 million Euros.

Is that not a good business? The answer is: yes it is.

There is also possible to buy single spot under the tree. Prices depend on the same criteria as described above and vary between 770 and 1200 Euro per spot. Of course, we save a lot of money if we buy one family tree with 10 spots than buying ten single spots.
Wholesale is always cheaper!

Friedwald company is present in many places in Germany, and has to respect the local rules of particular federal states. In particular states (lands) in Germany, people can buy a spot only for 15-30 years. Therefore, in such places there is also special offer of buying a spot under the tree for 15-30 years, what costs 490 Euros. In such cases, the local forester, who manages the property, is selecting the appropriate tree.

For children under 3 years old, parents pay only for the funeral costs, which are equal to 275 Euro (including VAT and biodegradable urn).

Certain rules on such cementeries

What is happening when our tree will fall down? Not much, simply forester is coming and in the place of the old one is planting the new one.

FriedWald company stresses that it is not their responsibility to take care about the graveyard, as they want to make it as close to nature as possible. They accept the natural rules as given.

No decoration on the trees (especially candles, I do not have to explain why 🙂 as the decoration is already there, in the form of mosses, shrubs, wild flowers or leaves with colors depending on the season.

Company stresses also that all funerals are not anonymous, meaning the every person buried in the forest cemetery has its own tree, what is reflected by small black notice on the tree with the name of the person and dates of his/her live (see photo below).

And the last rule. Animals are not buried together with humans.

WP_20160317_15_18_51_ProPhoto: Rafal Chudy

Great Innovation in forestry

What surprised me the most in this company? Definitely, their website.

You are not only able to buy the funeral tree there, but also you are able to have a small tour in their forests in order to check how trees look like, and where is the best spot for you or your family.

Additionally, one is able to get a loan from the company for 12, 24, 36 or 48 months in order to finance the purchase of the tree, which even for Germans is not cheap. It seems that the customers are the most important for this company.

Check it here !

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