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How we select our memorial forests

Many people are attracted to the idea of a memorial tree in a forest as their final resting place. It’s an option that provides both a connection with nature, even after life, and the opportunity to contribute to protecting beautiful forestland. 

When we seek out the forests that will be right for this kind of memorial, we go through a thoughtful and rigorous process. Choosing a memorial tree is a significant decision, and we’re committed to protecting our forests and providing people with perpetual access to their memorials. 

Just as trees have their differences, each forest has many different characteristics. Below we've included some of the important things we look for when we begin the process of identifying new memorial forests.

The driveway when you enter Rock River

Location and habitat value 

First, we look for a location near major cities and metropolitan areas — accessible yet distant enough to ensure privacy and peace. We want people to experience the solitude of being in nature, but in a way that is easy for them to make the trip to connect with their tree and for family and friends to be able to return to remember and honor their loved one. 

Each forest is incredibly different and there isn’t a single, optimal ecosystem we are looking for. Instead, we focus on the health, biodiversity, and unmistakable beauty within a forest such as water features like streams and ponds along with inspiring views. Often, the properties we consider are wildlife habitats and may face a threat of development or loss of these values. 

Many of our memorial forests are recognized for their proximity to recreational attractions. Better Place Forests Yosemite Gateway is located just 30 miles west of the iconic Yosemite National Park, and Better Place Forests Berkshires borders the Mohawk Trail State Forest in Massachusetts, known for its hiking trails and rare old-growth forests.

A family admires the tree canopy in Yosemite Gateway

Community significance and support

When considering forest locations, we look for features that are worth preserving for their significance to the local community and greater region. Our process for protecting land begins by identifying and purchasing land with high conservation value. For us, conservation value means land that possesses natural, scenic, historical, forested, or open-space resources. Properties that have high conservation value tend to be areas that are significant to the local community. We find that many of our customers and their loved ones have sentimental connections to our forests and can remind them of memories with those they love. 

Sarah and her husband, Tom, wanted to find a final resting place that resonated with both of them. The two love the outdoors and Flagstaff, so when they found Better Place Forests Flagstaff, it felt like the perfect option for them as they’re both alumni of Northern Arizona University.

“That's where we met, that's where we fell in love, and that's where we ultimately want to spend forever,” said Sarah. 

Another important factor is support from the local community to bring a conservation memorial forest to the area. One example of this is the overwhelming support from the community of Scandia for Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley. Scandia Mayor, Christine Maefsky, whose family owns an award-winning dairy goat farm nearby, was quoted in the Pioneer Press saying,

 “It’s a great idea, [Better Place Forests is] offering something that many people want, which is a place to visit loved ones, to meditate, to feel close and connected to loved ones who died, and to do it in a beautiful setting while honoring our virgin forest and trees.”

Guests explore Santa Cruz on our accessible trail system

Access

Access is an extremely important factor for our forests. We envision what the travel would be like to the forest as well as how our customers and their loved ones can explore the forest itself. While researching potential properties, we often look for old skid roads or trail networks. This can support future trail systems with limited disturbance to the ecosystem. Additionally, we look for forests with gentle topography to help ensure that each memorial tree can be accessible to as many visitors as possible. 

Aerial view of our 200-acre Berkshires forest

Size

We are open to properties larger than 200 acres but our general range for a forest is between 50–200 acres. We believe that forests of this size provide the sense of serenity we want people to experience along with the ability to properly manage the forest for optimal health. To maintain our forests, we do extensive preventative work to make sure our memorial trees and forests are resilient. 

Immersed in the trees in St. Croix Valley

Land trust vetting

When selecting future forests, we look for land with high conservation value. Our team has also developed an extensive network of conservation partners and they often visit our potential properties and give us advice on the ecology and health of the forest. On each of our current forests, our conservation partners have confirmed that they contain high conservation values. We plan on working with the same local conservation partners to permanently protect the forest so even if we're ever gone, your legacy won't be.

We take great care to help make your final resting place accessible, and to help protect the forest and keep it healthy for future generations. Book a forest tour today to find your memorial tree in one of our 10 locations across the country.