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The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Australian Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts
The Hon Benny Allen
Papua New Guinea Minister for Environment and Conservation

Australia and PNG sign Second Joint Understanding on Kokoda

Media release
8 July 2010

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The Australian and Papua New Guinean (PNG) Governments today signed a Second Joint Understanding to support sustainable development of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track region, and protection of its special values.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Stephen Smith and Papua New Guinean Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, Sam Abal signed the agreement today in Alotau, PNG.

Australian Minister for Environment Protection and Heritage, Peter Garrett and Papua New Guinean Minister for Environment and Conservation, Benny Allen said the signing of the Second Joint Understanding marked the continuation of a joint Australian and Papua New Guinean Government commitment to work together to protect the Kokoda Track and surrounding region. The Second Joint Understanding will also improve the lives of local communities, by providing access to the potential economic benefits arising from the development of renewable resources including hydropower, water, forest carbon and tourism.

The Second Joint Understanding 2010-15 builds on the achievements made by Papua New Guinea and Australia following the signing of the first Joint Understanding in 2008.

Through this Second Joint Understanding the Governments of Australia and PNG have agreed to five key goals to continue the good work in the region:

  1. A safe and well-managed Kokoda Track, which honours its wartime historical significance and protects and promotes it special values.
  2. Enhanced quality of life for landowners and communities through improved delivery of basic services, income generation and community development opportunities.
  3. The wise use and conservation of the catchment protection area, including the Kokoda Track and its natural and cultural resources and values.
  4. Building national and international tourism potential of the Owen Stanley ranges and Kokoda Track Region, supported by a possible future World Heritage nomination.
  5. Working with communities, landowners, industry and all levels of government to ensure that activities established under the Kokoda Initiative are sustained into the future.

“The Australian Government is committed to preserving the historic values of the Kokoda Track – a place of great significance to both Australians and Papua New Guineans,” Mr Garrett said.

“Through this initiative on the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region, which was established in 2007, we will continue to deliver practical improvements through a program of works that have already delivered very real on-ground results.

“We have committed significant resources to supporting local communities and ensuring a safer and well managed Kokoda Track, whilst protecting the important values of the Track and surrounding regions.

Mr Allen said the Papua New Guinean Government was also pleased to commit new resources to maintain the excellent progress made under the first Joint Understanding and ensure activities are sustained into the future.

“The Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges represent a time when an important bond was formed between our people and the people of Australia during the Second World War. This is a bond that continues today.

“Through this Second Joint Understanding we will be able to continue the important work on protection of the Brown River Catchment region, providing community access to the economic benefits associated with sustainable use of the water, power, forest carbon and tourism resources in the region. We will also work towards a possible nomination of the Owen Stanley Ranges for World Heritage Listing.”

In 2007 the Australian Government committed $14.9 million over four years to support the Kokoda Initiative. In 2010 the Government announced an additional $4.9 million for the Kokoda Track Safety Package in response to immediate safety issues.

In 2010, the Papua New Guinean Government committed 5.5 million Kina to the Kokoda Initiative.

To view the Second Joint Understanding visit: www.environment.gov.au/heritage/international-projects/kokoda

Commonwealth of Australia