Words by Smiley Team
Cemeteries are places of remembrance and are often associated with loss, death, and grief. But they might also give way to life as well.
These places have a lot of potential for preserving ecological systems and conserving biodiversity that have otherwise been lost. Other than routine maintenance, the land usually goes relatively untouched, and as a result, species that might otherwise die due to human intervention can instead rest in peace in the graveyard. For example, there has been research into plants that have otherwise been lost, finding a home in historic US cemeteries.
One such cemetery is Warren Angus Ferris cemetery.
The Warren Angus Ferris cemetery is located in Dallas, Texas, and until recently the grounds were run down and neglected until the non-profit Friends of Warren Ferris Cemetery stepped in.
Their goal is to transform cemeteries into sanctuaries for wildlife and native plants, restoring the area and removing invasive plants allowing native plants and wildlife to thrive. Since the restoration Friends of Warren Ferris Cemetary have observed and cataloged over 50 species of plants.
“It is the mission of the Friends of the Warren Ferris Cemetery to recognize and honor those buried there, evolve an ongoing landscape restoration plan, and beautify and maintain the landscape to the standards of a certified wildlife & monarch butterfly way station, and promote environmental stewardship,” they say.
The cemetery was established in the mid-1800s and the last person buried there was in 1901. Since then the cemetery sat in disrepair even though the potential was there. The Friends of Warren Ferris enlisted neighbors and friends to help restore the land and fulfill the opportunities there, including opening it up to native flowers and pollinators leading to more natural diversity in the surrounding area.
“Transitioning these neglected landscapes to feature native plants would correspond to sustainability benefits,” Friends of Ferris vice president Julie Fineman told Food Tank.
There are approximately 50,000 cemeteries in Texas alone, many of which aren’t explicitly charted. Approximately one-third are not assigned caretakers responsible for their maintenance. Friends of Ferris may inspire others to refurbish their local cemeteries and help nature while respecting the resting.
DONATE: Friends Warren Ferris accepts donations and they’re always looking to expand their work.
SUPPORT: There are ways to support biodiversity in your own backyard like making butterfly gardens that allow pollinators a place for food, which will then spread to the surrounding area.