Where Kratom Grows and Deforestation

*The purpose behind this blog is to raise awareness about Kratom by sharing the reality of what we see and know through words, pictures and video. We are here to tell our story and document the present for educational purposes to anyone interested in knowing more about these amazing trees and what their future looks like.
From what I have seen online and in print there is little information gathered on Kratom trees (Mytragyna Speciosa) and not many authorities on the subject. Processed Kratom leaves have been known and used for centuries to treat a range of ailments, but today most credible Kratom sources still struggle distinguishing the four primary species from each other. Few to no photos have ever been published showing Kratom growing in the wild or what sustainable farming practices look like. To learn the real fine points of this remarkable tree takes years of firsthand experience and deep rainforest travels straight to the source. This has been my life lately and what I want to share with you.
My Kratom travels require going ever further off the map up rivers and through virgin jungles for extended amounts of time to find proper mature trees to harvest. Forget about wi-fi or even a toilet; these are hardcore camping trips with no park rangers for miles around. This has been my business and focus for over five years and our locations are trade secrets. What I can tell you is that we are somewhere in the heart of two different Indonesian islands, Sumatra and Kalimantan (aka Borneo). Unfortunately, because these locations are not private, others eventually find where we harvest and due to uneducated cultivation practices often kill (as in chop down) many of the trees with their own crude harvesting practices. This is why we are constantly on the search for more remote and harder to reach places.
Unlike these common destructive harvesting practices, we adhere to 100% sustainability to protect and preserve our source for future generations and business. If harvested responsibly, every couple of months a new crop will be ready to pick from the same trees and the quality stays consistent. Our methods keep the trees and rainforest alive and growing, the same way we found it. We only harvest organic trees found in nature, never from plantations, and always pick mature crops that yield the best alkaloid content. We also strive to share information on when is best to harvest and the most eco-friendly ways to do it, so feel free to ask us any questions on the topic.

Above This is an example of poor harvesting practices commonly seen by us in the field. These wild Red Vein Kratom trees are not even mature; the smaller ones stripped of leaves on the left are about 2-3 years old. The cut down dead tree leaning to the right is about 5 years old.
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Unsustainable Harvesting practices:
Lazy people often cut down the whole Kratom tree to get to the leaves. Many of these trees have not reached full maturity for a quality yield and are chosen to simply and literally cut corners. Trees reach prime maturity and peak alkaloid content only after eight to ten years. Many Kratom products on the market are from trees that never reach this age. This makes our task of finding mature trees ever more challenging and requires us to probe further away from known spots and to be ever more secretive from the eyes of irresponsible competitors looking to ruin this business and nature.
Often, if the tree is not chopped down, all the branches are cut off so what you see from the river from a poorly harvested tree are these tall, straight white barked posts with nothing but maybe a few leaves left on the very top. It’s pretty sad to see this sort of behavior without much thought for the future.
This process of carelessly destroying an entire tree to harvest the leaves is logically not sustainable and is turning a good business into one that will eventually collapse. It’s a cycle we have seen many times over in other exhausted Indonesian commodities. A good example is natural honey that used to be abundant 20 years ago but now is confined to the last remaining natural forest. This is because the rainforests and flowers that the bees once harvested pollen from are now all gone. They have been replaced with sterile and acidic soils from palm oil tree plantations. Nothing else grows here so there are no more flowers for the bees or even insects for that matter. Birds are also gone as a result and Kratom is too.
Another example were the orchids that covered the trees along the river banks (for those who do not know, orchids are parasites that live off of their host tree). Orchids fetched high prices and were plucked wherever they were seen and sold to the international markets. Now they are much rarer to find in the wild.
Kratom trees still exist because they grow in hard to reach places that have up until now been spared the slash and burn techniques to plant high value but destructive palm oil and rubber tree plantations. Every day more and more of the existing tree fringe along the rivers are being replaced by these two types of plantations, most of which are right on the river banks and are being capitalized on by poor indigenous people.

Above left: Two healthy trees stand about 40 meters tall along the river bank. Right: A close up of a young tree about 8 years old. You can tell it’s been harvested as its lower branches have been cut. Not the best possible harvesting practice but better than other common examples.
The reality of what is happening today calls for a state of alarm and is of major concern for the survival of these irreplaceable trees. Kratom trees are often viewed as an expendable resource and are being destroyed at an alarming rate by unsustainable methods of harvesting leaves. Slash and burning the land to make space for palm oil in place of all other trees is not helping Kratom survive either. In five to ten years we estimate there will be little left in the wild which will mean prices will rise drastically and/or all product will have to be from plantations. People will continue to hunt out the remaining trees and destroy them as well unless sustainable practices are implemented.
We will be producing a series of blogs and videos on this subject. If you enjoyed this blog, we have a whole lot more on Facebook and Instagram @thehealingeast_

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