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Living root bridge

Type of pedestrian bridge made with live trees / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A living root bridge is a type of simple suspension bridge formed of living plant roots by tree shaping. They are common in the North-Eastern part of the Indian state of Meghalaya. They are handmade from the aerial roots of rubber fig trees (Ficus elastica[1][2]) by the Khasi and Jaiñtia[3] 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 50 and 1,150 m (160 and 3,770 ft) above sea level.[4]

Quick facts: Living root bridge, Crosses, Characteristics,...
Living root bridge
Double living root bridge in East Khasi Hills
Double living root bridge in East Khasi Hills (2011)
MaterialLiving trees roots
Trough constructionRocks
Total lengthexamples over 50 metres (160 ft)
Widthexamples over 1.5 metres (5 ft)
Design lifeup to 500 years
Local Khasis using the young, pliable aerial roots of a fig tree to create a new railing for a bridge near the village of Kongthong

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 several hundred years.[5][6] Without active care, many bridges have decayed or grown wild, becoming unusable.[7] Written documentation of living root bridges was sparse until the 2010s, but in 2017, researchers geo-located a total of 75 living root bridges.[8]

Living root bridges have also been created in the Indian state of Nagaland,[9] in Indonesia at Jembatan akar on the island of Sumatra, and in the Banten province of Java, by the Baduy people.[10][11]

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