Our writing competition was created to uncover literary excellence in short stories and poetry from writers from all over the world and also to begin a legacy reforestation project.
We decided to set our entry fee at a modest, affordable £5 and realised some writers would enter, spurred on by the possibility of seeing their work in print and perhaps bagging a slice of the £3,000 prize fund; let’s face it, who wouldn’t!
We hoped others would also be inspired to enter because we were offering something quite unique; we pledged to plant a tree in Kenya for every single entry and to send the GPS coordinates of it to the entrant. This would be the start of our tropical Word Forest.
Ambitious? Yes, but doable and there’s more.
Under the guiding eye of Ru Hartwell our reforestation expert, a brand new classroom will also be built at the Kundeni School in Bore, Kenya, which sits right next door to our Word Forest.
Ru explains, ‘Most primary schools in Kenya are massively under-resourced and Kundeni School is no exception. The roof leaks badly in the wet season and the classroom is sweltering in the summer. The cash raised by the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize will result in a tree being planted for each entry and also go towards buying building materials for a new classroom. This unique competition is great news for the whole community in Bore and every entrant will make a tangible difference to the lives of 300 bright, eager kids. With a bit of luck we might even get them a shiny new tin roof!’
Because the school is located in a very dry part of Bore, Ru plans to grow the most drought resistant trees which yield timber rather than a fruit crop. A typical casuarina tree will grow into a useful pole in only 3 years and will easily be 20ft tall in that time. At that point, they could easily weigh 40 Kgs so conservatively, each tree will fix around 30 Kgs of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Bore suffered from massively disorganised deforestation to build holiday accommodation on the coast during a recent boom time. Sadly, the area was left in a devastating state and nothing was replanted in its place.
There is still a ready market paying a good price for these poles at the coast and that’s fine but the forests that supply this growing area of industry need to be well managed and restocked. The best thing about growing trees for construction is that you continue to get a long term lock up of the carbon and as long as the timber remains solid, it holds on to the CO2 it has absorbed and helps keep our planet cool.
Ru adds, ‘The oak timbers of Ely Cathedral were installed in the 10th century and many were cut from trees that were already 300 years old. They are still largely intact, so have been storing carbon in a form that doesn’t contribute to climate change for up to 1,300 years, yet sceptics claim you only get a ‘temporary solve’ with trees, which is entirely untrue; they are a long term investment for the earth.’
‘The key point for the entrants is that as well as helping the Kundeni kids immediately with the money raised from this writing competition and 10 times more in a few years time from the sale of the timber, each tree will easily lock up a cement bags worth of carbon for the next 20 or 30 years; absolutely everybody wins!’
You have until midnight GMT on Sunday 30th November to enter the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize.
Don’t leave it until the last minute, get your entry in today and be part of a life changing eco-project and you never know, you might even win a healthy slice of the prize fund!
Proud as punch,