The Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) has announced that it will expand its ranger team through a major training program supported through the Papua New Guinea – Australia Partnership.
The KTA Ranger Capacity Development Project will train 14 new rangers, who will join the six existing rangers to manage and maintain the Kokoda Track, protect the region’s rich biodiversity, and preserve its important cultural and military heritage.
KTA Acting Chief Executive Officer Julius Wargirai said that by increasing the number of KTA rangers, organisational restructure and improving their quality of training, the management of the Kokoda Track will be strengthened.
“Having more, well-trained rangers will improve the Kokoda Track region as a tourist destination and bring flow on benefits for local communities,” he said.
The program is open to men and women who believe they have the education, skills and personal qualities to be a ranger.
“This is the first time ever for KTA to recruit women to take on the role of Rangers. KTA is taking into account that Gender Equality is important in the way forward.” Mr Wargirai said.
“KTA rangers will have many different roles working in environmental protection, tourism promotion and military heritage management with the other Kokoda Initiative partners such as the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, Tourism Promotion Authority and the National Museum and Art Gallery. This makes for an interesting and exciting career,” Mr Wargirai continued.
“Some of their work is hands on – clearing vegetation, repairing the track and building footbridges – while other tasks are more strategic, like working with communities to identify local needs and planning projects.”
A local leader from Kagi, Clement Daia, said the project is a good opportunity for Kokoda Track communities.
“A good number of young people have made their interest known in our communities and have applied for the new ranger positions,” he said.
“I hope to see new KTA Rangers recruited from the local Track communities.”
The Ranger Capacity Development Project is supported by the Australian Government through the PNGAusPartnership.
The addition of more rangers to the KTA team will make the Kokoda Track an even more attractive tourist destination when the time comes for regular international travel to resume.
Training for the new rangers is expected to commence in June and will include classroom and field-based components which will be supervised by an experienced international expert.
The basic training will cover track maintenance, first aid, chainsaw operations, reporting and monitoring of campsites, guesthouses and military sites.
Top performing students from the basic training will be selected for a second year of advanced training which will include management and site interpretation skills, and advanced protection of military and environmental heritage. This will see advanced graduates awarded with an internationally recognised Certificate in Conservation and Land Management.