Taipei (CNA) - Eco-friendly burials are catching on in Taiwan, with the number having increased by 20 times over the past decade, according to Ministry of the Interior (MOI) data.
As people on Thursday visited cemeteries where their relatives are buried to observe Tomb Sweeping Day, the ministry urged them to plan their own burials in advance and to consider eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional burial in a casket.
The eco-friendly burials the ministry has been promoting since 2001 all involve cremation, after which the ashes are buried at the roots of trees or flowers, or spread at sea or in designated areas.
According to Cheng Ying-hung, deputy head of the MOI's Department of Civil Affairs, eco-friendly burials address the problem of a shortage of space in Taiwan in ways that traditional casket burials or columbariums cannot.
According to the ministry, thousands of eco-friendly burials took place in 2016 in the country's six special municipalities.
Taipei had 2,857, New Taipei 1,122, Taoyuan 343, Taichung 846,Tainan 290 and Kaohsiung 698.
Meanwhile, the numbers of such burials in other counties and cities were all under 100.
In total, there have been over 30,000 such burials, a sharp increase from just 200 in 2006.
Cheng explained that the relatively higher number of cases in the six special municipalities is related to the quality infrastructure that is available for such eco-friendly burials in these locations.
He continued that the idea behind eco-friendly burials is to make cemeteries more like parks, so that people can visit them to remember their loved ones whenever they want, as opposed to the convention of going to the grave sites just once each year to pay respects and tidy the tombs.
According to the MOI data, there are currently 31 cemeteries in Taiwan that allow for a tree or flower burial or the spreading of ashes, while there are two zones that are not cemeteries where such burials can take place, and nine local governments that can help with sea burials. (By Liu Lee-jung and Kuan-lin Liu)