Rangers from Papua New Guinea and Queensland will now be working together to repair the Kokoda Track in the 75th Anniversary year of the Kokoda Campaign, following the signing in Brisbane of a memorandum of understanding between the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).
Environment Minister John Pundari said the work that the rangers will undertake, carried out in steep terrain and wet conditions, will not be easy but will be very rewarding.
“It’s a great initiative to have rangers from both countries sharing expertise and helping the Kokoda Track Authority to maintain a safe and well-managed track that honours its historical significance and protects and promotes its special values”, Minister Pundari said. He noted that the KTA was the PNG Government agency responsible for keeping the Track open and safe, and for managing the Track on a day-to-day basis.
Tourism Minister Tobias Kulang said Kokoda was a special place, as were its people.
“For QPWS to be able to assist KTA and local communities to maintain the Track, so it remains open and safe, is of great importance to Papua New Guinea. As well as its historical and cultural significance, the Kokoda Track is PNG’s main tourism drawcard, so it’s critical to ensure it is well-maintained and managed.”
Queensland National Parks Minister Steven Miles said Queensland would send nine rangers to Papua New Guinea to work alongside KTA rangers and the local community on track repairs along some key sections of the track.
“This is a very exciting project for all involved. The Kokoda Track is such a significant part of Papua New Guinea’s and Australia’s wartime history, and the work also provides an opportunity to learn skills from each other,” Dr Miles said.
“QPWS established a working relationship with the KTA when its staff assisted with track projects and training during a management trek prior to the 2015 ANZAC Day Centenary celebrations. I was honoured when the PNG Government invited QPWS to enter into a memorandum of understanding, with benefits to both parties.”
This agreement follows efforts by the Kokoda Track Authority to ensure a track maintenance program was underway in time for the start of the 2017 trekking season. The work by the PNG and Queensland rangers will be complemented by footbridge repairs and construction at river crossings along the track.
The Kokoda Initiative is a PNG-led joint development program designed to preserve the Kokoda Track region. It supports the management, sustainable development and protection of the region’s important natural, cultural and military heritage values.
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L-R: Hon Tobias Kulang MP, Minister for Tourism; Hon Steven Miles MP, Queensland Minister for National Parks.