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PRESS RELEASE: The Writing Contest that Planted a Forest


Boy from Kundeni Primary School by the Word ForestA little publishing house based in Lyme Regis, Dorset has just launched a global writing contest with very big heart. The third Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, or MOLP3 as it’s fondly known, opened for entries on 1st September. It remains the only competition in the world to plant a tree for every single entry.

This reforestation initiative is the idea of Tracey West, an author on sustainability and co-founder of Magic Oxygen Publishing. Their writing contests have left an impressive green footprint on the competition circuit, paid out over £6,000 in prize money and elicited thousands of entries from 60 countries. They are also responsible for a Word Forest in Bore, Kenya, now eleven times the size of Wembley Stadium.

Their forestry expertise comes from tree planting guru, Ru Hartwell, who has planted hundreds of thousands of trees all over the world. He has first-hand knowledge of Bore and knows how greatly it has suffered from deforestation. Ru is currently in Bore helping the villagers build a Forest Centre which will provide accommodation and education for people who want to help, and perhaps emulate, the reforestation project.

The Forest Centre, Bore, Kenya under constructionRu explains: ‘All humans share the same atmosphere. Every time we burn fossil fuels, we increase the amount of carbon up there for everybody. Luckily, the reverse is also true, so every time we plant a tree, a little bit of that carbon is removed. The planet’s tropical and equatorial forests are pivotal in keeping the earth cool, therefore Bore is the perfect location to help slow down climate change.’

‘The Word Forest is also reintroducing biodiversity and providing this remote African community with medicines, food, water purifiers, protection from the elements and a long-term income stream. MOLP is the only contest where everybody wins!’

Simon West is the other half of Magic Oxygen and an IT specialist. He wrote bespoke software that allowed the 19 judges of MOLP2 who reside in 6 countries on 4 continents, to assess the entries remotely, which kept the carbon footprint down to an absolute minimum. He also issues electronic certificates to the contest entrants with clickable GPS coordinates of their trees.

Simon adds: ‘Alex Katana is the resident Project Manager in Bore and once the trees have been planted, he walks through the forest and registers their exact location on a GPS logger. In time – and as Google Maps update their images – entrants will be able to watch the fruits of their labours grow.’

children in their new classroom 2016In addition to trees, previous MOLP contests also funded the construction of an urgently needed new classroom at Kundeni Primary School in the same community.

The finished building was handed over to the headmaster James Kithi in June. Their 300 students only had one safe classroom to study in and the addition of the new class has had a positive impact on their education.

Tracey comments: ‘The £5.00 entry fee for MOLP3 will buy a tree and some building materials for a further classroom. They desperately need it for study, but also, many of the students sleep at the school as it’s too far to walk home. The teachers work incredibly hard to juggle the lessons so as many as possible can study inside with protection from the harsh elements. Seeing photos of the one we’ve just finished full of children, is the only inspiration I need to make a noise about MOLP3!’

‘I don’t want our initiative to be unique, I want it to be pioneering! Other literary contest organisers could plant trees for each entry, uncovering brilliant creative writing and leaving an environmental legacy too.’

Visit for more details, to purchase the anthology from MOLP1 or 2 (for which they’ll plant another tree) and to enter MOLP3 and be part of the magic.



Kundeni ClassroomHigh res images and further quotes available on request.

Simon West: Editor: Magic Oxygen Publishing
Telephone: 07896 884 114

Ru Hartwell: Magic Oxygen Word Forest Coordinator
Telephone: 07773 001 132

Competition In Brief:

Magic Oxygen Word Forest nursery, Bore, KenyaMOLP3 is sponsored by eco resort, Bunaken Oasis

Short Stories: up to 4,000 words
Poetry: up to 50 lines
Entry fee £5 per submission
Age 16+ at the time of submission
Open for worldwide electronic and postal submissions, aged 16+
Open for Entries: 1st September 2016
Closing Date: 31st December 2016