Meghalaya : ‘Living Root Bridges’ Striving For UNESCO World Heritage Site Tag

 

  • NET Web Desk

The Living Root Bridge, a trailblazer and a major tourist destination situated in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, which points-out the botanical & socio-cultural links between nature and human culture is striving for the tag of United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s ‘World Heritage Site’.

Locally referred as Jingkieng Jri, “the Living Root Bridge highlights symbiotic relationship between Nature and human culture to a global audience, but more so, it focuses on the need to adopt a balanced approach between economy and ecology, something which the state Government has been working tirelessly in the past few years.” – asserted the Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, at the National Convention on Community and Science based Conservation Research and Development of Jingkieng Jri held at the state Convention Center, Shillong on Tuesday.

The Cooperative Societies & experts present during the National Convention shared their respective initiatives undertaken to preserve both the ‘Jingkieng Jri’, and biodiversity, including – (Flora and Fauna) in and around each Living Root Bridge.

Addressing the gathering, CM Sangma emphasized on the concept of ‘Just Transition’, which depicted of ensuring a transitional process that is “just for all”, that acts for both the nature and communities encircling it.

“As a State Government, we have been extensively working towards Natural Resource Management where we are focusing on creation of livelihood out of the natural resources that we possess, so we use them in a sustained manner and yet create a parallel economy with more inclusive forms of livelihood, while keeping the ecology at the forefront,” – observed the CM.

“This National conclave on Jingkieng Jri focuses on just one part of the massive big picture on Natural Resource Management that we are trying to bring about and we feel that the Living Root bridge Conservation project could be a lighthouse project that would bring attention to the need for NRM interventions to preserve the ecosystem while facilitating sustainable livelihoods,” the CM added.

CM Sangma further expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the community for their immense support in preserving the site.

“If the Living Root bridges of Meghalaya receive the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag, it would be more about the larger message that we would be giving to the world that the Living Root Bridge is an ecosystem in itself, supporting many birds, animals, lichen, mushrooms, flowers, trees, serving its simple purpose while allowing the humans to cross over them for their living. The process of making these bridges is an age-old craft, a very much living and alive tradition among the locals in the present age. It is crucial to archive this age-old wisdom of not only making, but more so, conserving the bridges and the related ecosystem.” – further added the CM, while stating about the unique species residing along the concerned region.

Its worthy to note that many such living root bridges in the forests are conserved by the communities of Meghalaya through their sacred customary practice of preserving the groves known as ‘Law Kyntang’.

According to scientists, ‘Living Root Bridges’ are house to several critically-endangered species of flora and fauna, and therefore is a major reason to be considered as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Considered to be one of the finest creations, the ‘Living Root Bridges’ are made from rubber tree roots, known as Ficus elastica tree. Their tangled webs of roots provides a stable alternative to wooden bridges.