One of my favorite things I’ve found on the internet, the “Living Bridges of Meghalaya, India” were created by villagers who trained trees and their root systems to span across the waterways near their village.
I was ecstatic to find these after toying with the idea of splicing together trees to grow into a house or structure of some kind, which by the way has also now already been done (Fab Tree Hab). I had been toying with the idea of cloning Melina trees, which are a fast growing tree that has wood that bugs don’t like to eat, and weaving/splicing them together to grow a small one bedroom house over a decade or so… a project I’d still love to take on one day.
But back to the bridges… the following article has some great photos and more details about these living bridges:
Upon seeing these bridges, it seemed obvious that they must have been made with Banyan trees, and that seems to be right… the article says they’re made with Ficus, which is a type of fig tree. They’re called Banyans in India and Higueron here in Costa Rica.
These particular bridges have been grown for centuries and some are 500 years old and 100 feet long! Unlike a regular bridge, which weakens and must be repaired as nature’s elements break it down over time, these bridges get stronger with age.
One element of their construction that fascinates me is the long range, sustainable thinking that’s behind them. For one of the longer bridges, it must take more than a person’s lifetime to make it growable, which means that the people building them will never be able to use them, but they put out their sweat and blood so that their great-grandchildren, who they will never meet, can safely cross a river long after they have passed away. Such long-range thinking is no longer part of our modern technological culture, where nearly everything we buy is obsolete within a few years, and in the U.S. people change houses and communities roughly every five years.