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UNESCO tag sought for living root bridges

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    31st Jan, 2022

Context

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.

About

  • 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.
  • It highlights the symbiotic relationship between people and nature.
  • Locally referred as Jingkieng Jri, the ‘Living Root Bridges’ are conserved by the communities of Meghalaya through their sacred customary practice of preserving the groves known as ‘Law Kyntang’.

What is a world heritage site?

  • A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
  • Designated by UNESCO, the tag is given for having any cultural, historical, scientific, or other forms of significance.
    • Agra Fort, Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Taj Mahal are some of the many sites from India that have been inscribed on the List of World Heritage sites. 

Allocation of tag

  • 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:

(i) Human creative genius

(ii) Interchange of values

(iii) Testimony to cultural tradition

(iv) Significance in human history

(v) Traditional human settlement

(vi) Heritage associated with events of universal significance

(vii) Natural phenomena or beauty

(viii) Major stages of earth’s history

(ix) Significant ecological and biological processes

(x) Significant natural habitat for biodiversity

Benefits of living root bridges

  • These living root bridges are example of indigenous climate resilience.
  • Being a stable alternative to wooden bridges, they provide connectivity.
  • These bridges attract tourists and help local people earn an income.
  • They also have regenerative effects on the surrounding environment.
  • Apart from producing their own building material, the trees absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide over their lifetimes. They help stabilise the soil and prevent landslides.
  • Recently, the 4th Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation was held. It was organized by Malaysia and Global Tiger Forum (GTF).
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