I harvested this tree in the pictures below first in 2006 and then harvested it again in 2010. And as you can see, I did not disturb the inner part of the tree by digging into the tree. It remains sealed and does not harm the Xylem or the Pith of the tree, by doing this, the Chaga will continue to grow as long as the tree lives.
I will go back and harvest it again in 2014.
Sad news folks, I went back to this tree on 26/01/2014 and someone had beat me to it, not to worry though, it must have been one of my guys because the tree still looks strong and healthy and was harvested correctly, so there's always 2018 if I can get to it first that is.
Most trees that die soon after being harvested for Chaga is caused by the harvesters digging or chiseling into the tree to get all of the Chaga out, this practice results in further damage being done to the structure of the tree.
I was a certified Arborist for over 20 years and I personally teach my harvesters how to sustainably harvest these trees, adhering to the I.S.A. (International Society of Arboriculture) pruning standards. If your local Tree Service or forestry worker can not explain to you what a collar cut or bark ridge cut is, then this person should not be working on your tree's or collecting Chaga.
Yes, it is true that the Chaga will eventually kill the tree in the picture below, but this is a big healthy tree and because it has only one infection, will live for many many more years with proper care. If a tree has many infections, then it will die within four to five years, and you may not get another harvest from the tree.
The picture on the left is a perfect example of what not to do to the tree. As you can see, the pick-end of this ax (nice axe though) is driven almost clear through the heart of this tree.
If this tree wasn't dead before, it is now!
I am not the Creator nor the designer of this gift, but I am however one of Mother Natures little gardeners and do respect Her laws. If we wound Her a little bit, She will heal and give us more in time, but if we wound Her too deeply and beyond Her ability to heal, then there will be none for any of us!
If you deserve the best, then we have what you deserve!