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ZSI stresses faunal diversity, health cards as Meghalaya pitches for UNESCO tag for Living Root Bridges

The Living Root Bridges are like a suspension bridge formed with living plant roots by tree shaping. They highlight the symbiotic relationship between people and nature.

Published: 21st January 2022 08:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2022 08:12 PM   |  A+A-

CM Conrad K Sangma had sought UNESCO nomination for the Living Root Bridges which support many birds, animals, lichens, mushrooms, flowers, trees, etc (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Faunal diversity and the preparation of health cards will be the prerequisites for the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya to get the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag.

Dr Dhriti Banerjee, who is the director of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), laid thrust on the twin aspects for meeting the criteria of IX and X of the UNESCO as the state government pitches for World Heritage Site tag for the Living Root Bridges, locally called Jingkieng Jri.

The Living Root Bridges are like a suspension bridge formed with living plant roots by tree shaping. They highlight the symbiotic relationship between people and nature.

Recently, the Meghalaya government organised a national convention and a preparatory field visit of ZSI scientists to assess the community and science-based conservation, research, and development of the Living Root Bridges.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had sought UNESCO nomination for the Living Root Bridges which support many birds, animals, lichens, mushrooms, flowers, trees, etc, and allow the humans to cross over for their living.

Prof K Vijay Raghavan, the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, said the Living Root Bridges deserve the UNESCO tag due to the rich micro as well as macro world associated with them.

The ZSI scientists visited some sites of the Living Root Bridges in East Khasi Hills for the assessment of faunal diversity. They documented 83 fauna (six mammals, five aquatic, 72 terrestrials) from the 11 Living Root Bridges. Six species of mammals were reported for the first time from two bridges.

“A fruit bat, Macroglossus sobrinus K Anderson, was found with seeds in spit and seemed to be a potential seed disperser, which needs further investigation. Entomofaunal diversity includes eight orders (two aquatic, six terrestrial) within the radius of 200 metres of Living Root Bridges assessed,” the ZSI said in a statement.

Ades albopictus, a vector of viral diseases, was identified and stone holes in Living Root Bridge streams were found containing mosquito larvae. Among pollinators, a bumblebee, Bombus Haemorrhoidalis Smith, and five Aphis bees were observed in the surroundings of the Ficus tree. The sap-sucking insects included two Ficus feeding whiteflies from Living Root Bridge trees and one Phyrochoridae.

“A Living Root Bridge site, Nohwet, was observed having more diversity of butterflies, dragonflies and aquatic insects than other Living Root Bridges. No infestation of Isoptera (termites) was observed in any of the root bridges. Spider webs were visible on tree trunks,” the ZSI statement said.

“The expedition to Living Root Bridges helped explore the faunal diversity for providing supporting data towards the recognition of these bridges as UNESCO World Heritage site by strengthening the proposal with inputs of biodiversity and ecosystem services of these biological bridges,” it added.
 



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