This article was originally published in print in The Herbert River Express on March 15 2017
A CARDWELL ranger is among a group to help villagers living near the famed Kokoda Track to prepare for the upcoming trekking season.
Alex Tessieri will work with rangers and locals in Papua New Guinea in a 10-day project, starting this week, in the 75th Anniversary year of the Kokoda Campaign.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) principal ranger Dave Fuller is proud to be involved in what he sees as an important project.
“It’s a great thing to be involved in, for conservation and as a way to assist the people of PNG,” he said.
The Kokoda Initiative (KI) is a PNG-led joint development program designed to preserve the Kokoda Track region. It is intended to assist the PNG Government with the management, sustainable development and protection of the Kokoda Track and the greater area’s important natural, cultural and military heritage values.
The Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), a key partner in the KI, is the PNG Government agency responsible for keeping the track open and safe, and manages the Track on a day-to-day basis.
With the support of the Australian Government’s Department of Environment and Energy, three QPWS staff travelled to PNG in April 2015 to participate in a Management Trek and to assist the KTA with high-rainfall track management, maintenance and developing technologies.
QPWS acting executive director of northern parks and forests James Newman said all the rangers were looking forward to the task ahead.
“They know this will be no holiday, and that working conditions along the track will be similar to a lot of our Queensland Wet Tropics tracks in monsoonal conditions,” Mr Newman said.
“But the biggest part of the experience will be at night when they stay in villages, eating local traditional foods and sleeping on the floor in traditional huts.”
National Parks Minister Steven Miles said he signed a memorandum of understanding with the PNG Government, and also signed an agreement with the Australian Government, which was helping to fund the project.
“QPWS is sending nine rangers to PNG on three rotations, to work with the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) on track repairs and recording of natural values along some key sections of the track,” Mr Miles said.
“The Kokoda Track is such a significant part of PNG’s and Australia’s wartime history, and the work is also a chance to learn skills from each other.
“The Queensland Government is paying staff salaries and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will fund other costs.”