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Sun Mar 18, 2018, 08:24 PM

Surreal Photos of India's Living Root Bridges

These intricate living structures take 15 to 30 years to complete.



A group of children cross a living root bridge in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. The bridges are essential for rural connectivity in a vertical landscape.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GIULIO DI STURCO

During monsoon season in northeast India, rainwater gushes through the emerald valleys and deep gorges of Meghalaya, the“abode of the clouds.” The mountainous plateau between Assam and Bangladesh is one of the wettest places on Earth, and the Khasi tribes who inhabit these hills have developed an intimate relationship with the forest.

Long before the availability of modern construction materials, the Khasi devised an ingenious way to traverse the turbulent waterways and link isolated villages: living root bridges, locally known as jing kieng jri.

Tree trunks are planted on each side of the bank to create a sturdy foundation, and over the course of 15 to 30 years, the Khasi slowly thread Ficus elastica roots across a temporary bamboo scaffolding to connect the gap. A combination of humidity and foot traffic help compact the soil over time, and the tangle of roots grows thick and strong. Mature bridges stretch 15 to 250 feet over deep rivers and gorges, and can bear impressive loads—upwards of 35 people at a time.



A double-decker root bridge in Cheerapunji is one of the main attractions in Meghalaya. The growing tourism in the region supports the local economy.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GIULIO DI STURCO

Unlike modern building materials like concrete and steel, these structures typically become more resilient with age and can survive centuries. They regularly withstand flash flooding and storm surges that are common in the region—a low-cost and sustainable way to connect remote mountain villages scattered throughout the steep terrain. The exact origin of the tradition in this region is unknown, but the first written record appears more than a hundred years ago.

More:
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/india/living-root-bridges-clean-village-mwalynnong-india/

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Mar 18, 2018, 08:41 PM

1. Nature is so ahead of mankind

and we are so behind...life on earth will continue, but not necessarily with mankind.

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Response to angstlessk (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 20, 2018, 09:41 AM

11. Angst, I would look at it quite differently. Man and nature living in harmony.

Man understanding nature deeply enough to be able to harness her strength without harming her. Compared to building a concrete bridge, so very much better for the environment. People used to understand and respect nature because their very lives depended on it.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Mar 18, 2018, 09:32 PM

2. Thanks for sharing this

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Mar 18, 2018, 10:23 PM

3. Was It A Group DEcision?

“Two decades ago, while researching her doctoral thesis, ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that trees communicate their needs and send each other nutrients via a network of latticed fungi buried in the soil — in other words, she found, they “talk” to each other

.Simard now believes large trees help out small, younger ones using the fungal internet. Without this help, she thinks many seedlings wouldn't survive. In the 1997 study, seedlings in the shade – which are likely to be short of food - got more carbon from donor trees.

"These plants are not really individuals in the sense that Darwin thought they were individuals competing for survival of the fittest," says Simard in the 2011 documentary Do Trees Communicate? "In fact they are interacting with each other, trying to help each other survive."

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet


“I'm walking in the Eifel Mountains in western Germany, through cathedral-like groves of oak and beech, and there’s a strange unmoored feeling of entering a fairy tale. The trees have become vibrantly alive and charged with wonder. They’re communicating with one another, for starters. They’re involved in tremendous struggles and death-defying dramas. To reach enormousness, they depend on a complicated web of relationships, alliances and kinship networks.

Wise old mother trees feed their saplings with liquid sugar and warn the neighbors when danger approaches. Reckless youngsters take foolhardy risks with leaf-shedding, light-chasing and excessive drinking, and usually pay with their lives. Crown princes wait for the old monarchs to fall, so they can take their place in the full glory of sunlight. It’s all happening in the ultra-slow motion that is tree time, so that what we see is a freeze-frame of the action.”

“There is now a substantial body of scientific evidence that refutes that idea. It shows instead that trees of the same species are communal, and will often form alliances with trees of other species. Forest trees have evolved to live in cooperative, interdependent relationships, maintained by communication and a collective intelligence similar to an insect colony. These soaring columns of living wood draw the eye upward to their outspreading crowns, but the real action is taking place underground, just a few inches below our feet.

“Some are calling it the ‘wood-wide web,’” says Wohlleben in German-accented English. “All the trees here, and in every forest that is not too damaged, are connected to each other through underground fungal networks. Trees share water and nutrients through the networks, and also use them to communicate. They send distress signals about drought and disease, for example, or insect attacks, and other trees alter their behavior when they receive these messages.”

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering-trees-

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Response to Me. (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 06:32 PM

6. I love the idea of trees cooperating, but...

... ecologist Suzanne Simard should not misquote like "Darwin thought they were individuals competing for survival of the fittest". That IS the very popular interpretation of Darwin's work, but he actually would have agreed with Simard that "In fact they are interacting with each other, trying to help each other survive".

"Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring", said Darwin. He also noted that cooperation is far more important than competition in the working of natural systems. For more about this, read the great Russian anarchist Pjotr Kropotkin's book: "Mutual Aid".

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Response to TomVilmer (Reply #6)

Tue Mar 20, 2018, 09:42 AM

12. Thanks for reminding us of that, Tom.

Darwin is very misunderstood by non-scientists.

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Response to Me. (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 10:41 PM

7. Nice

 

If only people could learn to work together like that for the greater good of humanity

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Response to 2left4u (Reply #7)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 11:02 PM

8. It Thrills Me To Know This

Humans are sadly lacking in recognizing that there is so much more intelligence operating in the world, universe, than ours.

The very idea of older trees taking the young ones under their care is so amazing.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 12:08 PM

4. When you think you have seen it all..........there is much more.

Thank you for posting..never knew that these bridges existed. Incredible.. thanks again

Stuart

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 01:31 PM

5. In pre-colonial and colonial times, the Leni-Lenape living along the Delaware River made tool

handles. They would take a stone and chisel an edge. Then they would chisel an indentation along the opposite edge of the stone. A root would be wrapped around the indented circumference. Then the stone with root would be buried for a couple of years.

When the stone with root was excavated, the root handle would be securely wrapped around the stone. Examples of chiseled stone can still be found along Sussex County, N.J. sections of the Delaware.

I hope I explained this clearly.


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Response to 3Hotdogs (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 11:08 PM

9. So unexpected. The person who thought that one up must have been so pleased when it worked!

Amazing idea.

Thanks, 3Hotdogs.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #9)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 11:23 PM

10. When I was teaching in New Providence, N.J., we took the kids on field trips to the Delaware River.

We would find net sinkers. These were stones that were worked and fitted around vines. Those vines would grow for only a few months and then be twisted around other vines to make nets to trap shad fish as they traveled up the Delaware to spawn.

The net sinker stones would be on the bottom of the tangle of vines.

We always found a couple of net sinkers. The ax handles were rare. We would also find hide scrapers.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #9)

Tue Mar 20, 2018, 09:45 AM

13. Judi, I doubt it was one person who thought it up.

Typically such techniques develop very slowly, generation by generation, each one tweaking an idea to improve it. My guess is that people first made bridges out of vines, and learned over time how to keep them alive and harness their power.

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