UNESCO tag sought for living root bridges


  • The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has underlined some green rules for the living root bridges of Meghalaya to get the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag.

  • Meghalaya Chief Minister pitched for UNESCO recognition as the hill State marked its 50th year of creation. Meghalaya has been celebrating its Statehood Day on January 21 since 1972.

About living root bridges of Meghalaya

  • A living root bridge is like a suspension bridge formed by guiding the pliable roots of the rubber fig tree (Ficus elastica) across a stream or river and allowing the roots to grow and strengthen over time.

    living root bridges
    Credit: Economic Times
  • There are no records to suggest when the Khasi community started the living root bridge tradition, but ecologists say it highlights the symbiotic relationship between people and nature.
  • Such a bridge is locally called jingkieng jri.
  • The ‘Living Root Bridges’ are made from rubber tree roots, which is known as Ficus elastica tree and their tangled webs of roots provide a stable alternative to wooden bridges.
  • It is considered to be one of the finest creations of nature. Last but not the least, Meghalaya could witness a significant boost in tourism if this jaw-dropping site gets the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag.
  • It may be mentioned that many such living root bridges in the forests are conserved by the communities of Meghalaya in the customary practice of preserving the sacred groves known as ‘Law Kyntang’.
  • These forests also possess a huge resource of medicinal plants and herbs. There lies a dire need for the larger world to go back to its roots and respect nature once again.

Fulfilling the IX and X criteria of the UNESCO World Heritage

  • The director of ZSI, a premier and reputed zoological organization, has stressed two aspects for fulfilling the IX and X criteria of the UNESCO World Heritage.
    • Sites showcasing significant ongoing ecological & biological processes and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals are represented by Criteria IX.
    • On the other hand, sites that contain significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation is represented by Criteria X.

When is the World Heritage Site tag allotted?

  • Usually announced once a year, the tag is given when the nominated sites have “outstanding universal value” and meets at least one of the following:
    • Human creative genius
    • Interchange of values
    • Testimony to cultural tradition
    • Significance in human history
    • Traditional human settlement
    • Heritage associated with events of universal significance
    • Natural phenomena or beauty
    • Major stages of earth’s history
    • Significant ecological and biological processes
    • Significant natural habitat for biodiversity

Benefits of having the tag?

  • The benefits of getting the Heritage Site tag are manifold. From protection and conservation to tourism opportunities, Heritage Sites can lead to economic benefits such as the generation of new employments, benefits to local businesses, and more. Through the tag, the sites can be preserved. With it, the cultural value that the place holds also gets the due recognition it deserves.

Source: TH

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