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UNESCO tag sought for Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Root Bridges

Mains level: NA

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.

Living Root Bridges

  • A living root bridge is a type of simple suspension bridge formed of living plant roots by tree shaping.
  • They are common in the southern part of the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya. Such a bridge is locally called jingkieng jri.
  • They are handmade from the aerial roots of rubber fig trees (Ficus elastic) by the Khasi and Jaintia peoples of the mountainous terrain along the southern part of the Shillong Plateau.
  • Most of the bridges grow on steep slopes of subtropical moist broadleaf forest between 50m and 1150m above sea level.

Why is it so unique?

  • As long as the tree from which it is formed remains healthy, the roots in the bridge can naturally grow thick and strengthen.
  • New roots can grow throughout the tree’s life and must be pruned or manipulated to strengthen the bridge.
  • Once mature some bridges can have as many as 50 or more people crossing, and have a lifespan of up to 150 years.


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