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How to choose a memorial tree in a protected forest: 9 options across the U.S.

by Better Place Forests

Whether you’re doing your own end-of-life planning or want to memorialize a loved one, it’s common to seek out options that align with your values. For many people, those values can include a connection to nature and ensuring that there is a place where family and friends can come to remember those they’ve lost. Better Place Forests offers an alternative to traditional burial by providing memorial trees in protected forests where cremated remains can be spread.

Thousands of Americans have already made this choice, selecting a tree for themselves or others in one of nine conservation memorial forests across the United States — with additional locations opening soon. When you buy a memorial tree with Better Place Forests, you are purchasing a private, protected place to spread cremated remains, for people and pets. Your choice helps to conserve forestland and provides a place for your family to visit. You and your loved ones can access the forest, both to hold a memorial ceremony and to enjoy the space.

Whether you choose from a long-living redwood on the California coast, a stately oak whose acorns feed the wildlife, or a quaking aspen with root systems that support generations of trees, you will find something in one of these forests that speaks to you.

“The thought of being in a serene, beautiful forest together with my parents, dogs, and hopefully my children and their families forever brings me a sense of relief and peace.”

Diana M., Flagstaff Forest, AZ

How Better Place Forests works

Better Place Forests is a green alternative to traditional end-of-life options. To create a conservation memorial forest, they first identify forestland where habitat and species diversity, tree health, and rare ecosystems can be protected. The forests are located near major cities and metropolitan areas to provide accessibility — yet distant enough to facilitate a more private and peaceful experience.

Better Place Forests advisors give online tours of the forest, detailing the different areas and features of the property and the special attributes of the memorial trees. Once you have purchased a tree, you’re able to schedule a visit and tour in person. The approach creates privacy for families who may be holding a memorial ceremony and enables one-to-one service for each visit.

When it is time for a memorial ceremony, ashes are mixed with local soil and wildflower seeds and placed beneath the tree. This process allows the ashes to have an active effect on the wellbeing of the tree. A bronze memorial marker with an inscription of your choosing is placed at the base. The tree and the whole forest become a place where your loved ones can visit and remember you.

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Conserving forestland across the U.S. 

The purchase of a memorial tree directly contributes to conserving open spaces and reforesting America. This happens first because you are contributing to the protection of the forest where your tree resides. Further conservation happens through a partnership with the non-profit One Tree Planted — for each tree you reserve, Better Place Forests and One Tree Planted plant 25–400 Impact Trees in your honor in areas that have been impacted by deforestation or forest fires. 

How does Better Place Forests compare to other end-of-life options? 

The average burial, plot, and headstone costs around $15,000 per person, and many find that this traditional process doesn’t align with their values. Better Place Forests customers can have their own tree in a private, protected forest and contribute to conservation in iconic locations across the U.S. In particular, many people are drawn to this option because it provides their family with a beautiful, natural place to return to and remember them. The Better Place Forests team offers heartfelt support throughout the process of making an end-of-life plan and for families that are grieving a loss.  

Pricing for a memorial tree in Better Place Forests often starts at around half the cost of a traditional burial. Pricing is based on several factors, including location, setting, tree type and size, and the number of ash spreading rights.  

“Not only is a traditional service roughly twice the cost, but you’re very limited on what you get out of it.” 

Hear more about why Spencer chose Better Place Forests for his late wife, Sheila, in the video below.

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