War Graves Commission unveils new climate policy

A traditional war cemetery at Arnhem

A traditional war cemetery at Arnhem

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who look after thousands of Commonwealth War Graves around the globe, have unveiled a new climate change policy.

The Commission have selected four cemeteries in France and Belgium to trial new environmentally friendly methods of gardening. One cemetery in each country has had the turf removed and gravel laid. The other two have had a more drought tolerant grass laid to adapt to drier conditions. Borders in all four cemeteries will be planted in the traditional way with plants selected for their ability to withstand periods of drought.

War cemeteries in hot, arid countries have often used pebbles or gravel. But in Northern Europe the Commissions Cemeteries have forever been hallmarked as ‘a small part of the world that is forever England’. The pristine grass lawns and traditionally English planting makes these places not only very fitting locations for soldiers to lie, but almost nice places to visit in their own right.

Railway Chateau cemetery

Railway Chateau cemetery

Pebbles and gravel, however, are really not suitable and look terrible as can be seen above. The dignity and integrity of such important places should not be compromised for political brownie points. Its sad that the Commission are being forced to make these changes, but I suspect they come from on high. Increasingly Government departments are being forced into making changes based on a climate change agenda.

I’m not saying that the environment is not important, but the Commission’s Cemeteries represent a tiny pinprick of the worlds surface. Meanwhile, countries like India and China belch out tons and tons of Carbon Dioxide.

Using new forms of grass and plants is no doubt a good idea. But to suggest that they might have to change the whole outlook of hundreds of cemeteries, on the basis of a theory for which the scientific basis is not fully proven, smacks of scaremongering. I cannot help but wonder if someone is looking to gain some kudos from this project. I know of no municipal cemeteries who are looking at changing their landscaping like this.

To give your views on the War Graves Commissions plans, fill out their survey here.


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Filed under debate, News, politics, Remembrance, World War One, World War Two

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