Twelve months of achievement for the Kokoda Initiative
6 December 2012
The 2011-2012 Annual Report of the joint Australian and Papua New Guinea Kokoda Initiative is now available at http://environment.gov.au/heritage/publications/kokoda/11-12-annrep.html.
The Kokoda Initiative is delivered in partnership by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia and is working towards the sustainable development of the Owen Stanley Ranges and Kokoda Track Region.
2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign. While celebrations commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of Papua New Guineans and Australians alike, the anniversary also provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the unique collaboration that continues between the two countries today.
The Initiative works to deliver activities under five key goals in the areas of track safety, community development, catchment protection and management, tourism and values identification, and the capacity building for ongoing sustainability of activities.
The Annual Report highlights achievements across each of these goals, bringing together the work of the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation, the Kokoda Track Authority, the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority and the (AusAID) Kokoda Development Program, supported by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Last financial year saw significant improvements in the ongoing maintenance of the Kokoda Track as well as the health, education and economic outcomes for villages living along the track.
To improve track safety, three bridges were constructed and work was undertaken to make potentially risky sections safer. Basic first aid training was provided to 121 porters, guides and rangers and a further 58 porters received wilderness-level certifications.
Through the Kokoda Development Program, support for education activities resulted in increased school enrolments and improved education infrastructure for track communities. This included the completion of four double classrooms, a teacher's house and a training room at the Kokoda Vocational Skills Training Centre. The program also supported health training and infrastructure including the supply of vital medical equipment to the value of K560,000 for health facilities in nine villages. The Kokoda Track Authority has continued to deliver tourism services payments to local villages from trek permit revenue. These payments support community development projects identified by the communities.
The PNG Department of Environment and Conservation has made significant progress through the release of a policy statement for the development of a National Protected Areas System in Papua New Guinea. This policy paper outlines the important aim of gaining support from landowners for environmental protection through payment for ecosystems services, either through service delivery or support for economic development. This policy, combined with projects to gather technical expertise through spatial and social mapping, will support an informed catchment management system in the coming years.
During 2011–12 the Kokoda Initiative has increased the focus on building the national and international tourism potential of the region by strengthening capacity of local operators through conferences and field trips and tourism training targeted for track communities.
The next 12 months of the Kokoda Initiative provide opportunities to consolidate activities, and translate research findings into action. The ongoing commitment shown by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia not only demonstrates the importance of the program and its progress towards achieving the goals but also reflects the special bond that remains between the Papua New Guineans and Australians.
For information on this and other Kokoda Initiative programs go to http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/international-projects/kokoda/index.html