29 June 2020

Living legacy trees creating new life from ashes

In a first for New South Wales a living and environmentally sensitive memorialisation option is providing a clean alternative to scattering the ashes of loved ones.

Crown land manager Northern Cemeteries, which oversees five not-for-profit memorial sites in Sydney and Newcastle, has partnered with Living Legacy Forest to bring the green initiative to Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium, North Ryde, and Frenchs Forest Bushland Cemetery, Davidson.

Melbourne-based Living Legacy Forest founder Warren Roberts believes many people do not realise when spreading normal cremated human ashes in various locations that it may damage the environment.

“Traditionally, people have scattered ashes in nature and waterways totally unaware of the harm caused by their high alkaline levels – which are similar to bleach or oven cleaner,” Mr Roberts explained.

“Our organic technology uses a unique treatment process that gradually transforms ashes into nutrients so when they come into direct contact with the root system, help to nurture the tree’s growth. It’s a method that is suitable for both native and exotic trees across a range of soil conditions.”

Northern Cemeteries’ Chief Executive Officer Pauline Tritton said they are excited to be the first burial provider in the state to offer the alternative option.

“People’s opinions and wishes around memorialisation and burial services are shifting, and we want to make sure they are considered and accommodated now and into the future,” Mrs Tritton said.

Creating a Living Legacy involves choosing the location, selecting a sapling species and personalised plaque, treating the ashes, and arranging the planting ceremony. Family options can hold up to four sets of ashes with the cemetery responsible for the tree’s ongoing care and maintenance.

“Families can now plant a living landmark, providing a natural memorial of their loved one to be tended and honoured,” Mrs Tritton said.

“Additionally, every time someone chooses a legacy tree, we will be donating 200 planted saplings to help protect the environment.”

Northern Cemeteries reflects Sydney’s diversity, serving all religious and cultural requirements, and catering to all needs. The Living Legacy Tree program highlights how the not-for-profit organisation actively engages, contributes, and connects with its community.

To arrange media interviews: Melinda Smith | 0408 565 593

For more information:

Northern Cemeteries Living Legacy Tree program

Living Legacy Forest

Government regulations

Disposing ashes which may cause air, land, or water pollution, without consent from appropriate authorities in New South Wales could result in legal proceedings under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Permission to spread ashes is currently required from private landowners, trusts of parks and reserves, and local councils responsible for parks, beaches and playing fields.

Media Release 29 April 2020 – New chapel to meet future demand at Frenchs Forest cemetery

Media Release 6 April 2020 – Mourners unite globally via funeral streaming 

Media Release 25 March 2020 – Funerals at Northern Cemeteries sites to follow new COVID-19 controls. 

Media Release 23 March 2020 – Cemeteries strengthen measures in response to COVID-19.

Northern Cemeteries would like to inform you of the following measures and precautions we are putting in place in response to coronavirus.

Frequently Asked Questions

For the safety of families and the general public, we are adhering to the 1 person per 4 square metre rule at funeral services.

We offer excellent free web-casting facilities for all those who are unable to attend chapel services and can conduct enquiries over the phone where necessary.

The cemetery continues to be open 6am to 6pm 7 days a week.

Office hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. Saturdays 9am to 4pm.

For all enquiries, please call our Customer Care team on 02 9805 0499.

Northern Cemeteries will continue to take all steps to care for our families and the community.