Mawphlang Sacred Grove, India

Site Details
Assessment Details

Site Overview

KBA status: Global/ Regional to be determined

Rationale for qualifying as KBA: Global/ Regional KBA status to be determined: a KBA of international significance that was identified using previously established criteria and thresholds for the identification of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and for which available data indicate that it does not meet global KBA criteria and thresholds set out in the Global Standard.

Priority for re-assessment against the Global KBA Standard.

For further details on this site and its significance as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, see here.

Global KBA criteria:
Year of assessment: 2004
National site name: Mawphlang Sacred Grove
Central coordinates: Lat: 25.47 Long: 91.73
System: Terrestrial
Altitude (m): 1,800 to 0
Area of KBA (ha): 879
Protected area coverage (%): 0

Text account

Year of compilation: 2004
Site description:

This IBA site is a sacred grove near Mawphlang village in East Khasi Hills district, 25 km from Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya. The grove is known as ‘Law-Lyngdoh’. In Meghalaya, the local communities have protected small areas of primary forest as sacred groves since time immemorial. The villagers believe that departed souls of ancestors abide in these forests. No one collects fruits, flowers, leaves and wood from these forests. The villagers believe that this would offend the sylvan deities. These tiny forests are more or less untouched by man for centuries. The site near Mawphlang is the most well known of the sacred groves. Tourists, researchers as well as picnickers visit the area. Two celebrated British botanists who studied this site were Sir J. D. Hooker in the 19th century and Dr N. L. Bor in the 20th century. The terrain of the area is undulating, and scenic.The grove is spectacular in spring, with two species of rhododendrons in bloom. The forest of Law-Lyngdoh Sacred Grove is Subtropical Broadleaf type, although the Khasi Pine Pinus kesiya dominates the surrounding areas. The main flowering trees are Rhododendron formosum, R. arboreum and Pyrus pashia, Some other noteworthy shrubs and trees include the oak Quercus griffithii, Daphne cannabina and Symplocos cochinchinensis. There are ferns such as Lindsaea odorata, and species of Botrychium, Peraneum, Dryopteris and Polypodium (Hajra 1975). The areas surrounding the scared grove are totally barren.

Summary of threats to biodiversity at KBA:

MAIN THREATS: Road construction; Occasional removal of plant materials and Non Timber Forest Produce; Poaching. Although this IBA is a sacred grove and is maintained as such to a great extent, it is not completely safe or sacred now. The new generations find it difficult to believe in the traditional sylvan deities. Most of the people of the surrounding areas have converted to Christianity and have lost touch with their traditional faiths (Tiwari et al. 1999). The degradation of sacred groves near Cherrapunji should be an eye-opener for environmentalists. It is high time that the State gets involved with the village councils to protect such areas of rich biodiversity. Regardless of belief in deities, such areas are symbols of a vanishing natural and cultural heritage, and their protection would serve to preserve water catchment areas as well. A road has been constructed through the grove, damaging part of it.


IUCN Habitat Coverage level Coverage % Habitat detail
Forest Unknown -


Threat level 1 Threat level 2 Threat level 3 Timing Scope Severity Impact
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals Intentional use (species is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use Gathering terrestrial plants Unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use Logging & wood harvesting Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Transportation & service corridors Roads & railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low

Recommended citation

Key Biodiversity Areas Partnership (2020) Key Biodiversity Areas factsheet: Mawphlang Sacred Grove. Extracted from the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas. Developed by the Key Biodiversity Areas Partnership: BirdLife International, IUCN, American Bird Conservancy, Amphibian Survival Alliance, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Global Environment Facility, Global Wildlife Conservation, NatureServe, Rainforest Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, World Wildlife Fund and Wildlife Conservation Society. Downloaded from on 27/11/2021.