A 13-member team of volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), who are maintaining the historical World War II Kokoda Track, are training local villagers about self-reliance and sustainable tourism.
CVA members David Croft and Tristan Gilmour, who are maintaining the track from Owers’ Corner to Mt Imita, said they were training the local villagers on how to look after the track in order to attract more tourists so that they could get direct spin-off benefits.
The 54 villagers involved in the programme are receiving training and skills in track maintenance, enhancing their capacity to earn money in the future.
Some of the completed works included track stabilisation, drain construction and gully repair, track realignment near Vabugi River, filling of trench at the Manari airstrip, digging rubbish pits and removal and construction of steps in dangerous areas.
Kokoda Track Authority chief executive Rod Hillman said the innovative project was important and essential for track maintenance and safety while developing skills and providing equipment for villagers to utilise after the CVA teams depart next month.
Mr Hill said it was anticipated the project would assist in the creation of an active “volunteer tourism” industry in the region where volunteers would participate in meaningful projects while engaging in skills transfer.
He said this project was delivering benefits to villagers, trekkers and the CVA participants.
Trekkers reportedly stated they appreciated the villagers’ efforts to make the track safer, and have noticed the improved aesthetics of the track due to the removal of rubbish.
Other CVA members are living in six track villages – Owers’ Corner, Efogi, Naduri, Kovello, Kokoda and Manari.