24 Apr 2008

PNG and Australia sign deal to protect Kokoda Track

11:41 am on 24 April 2008

The Papua New Guinea government and Australia have signed a joint memorandum of understanding to protect the historic Kokoda Track and surrounding forest.

Both sides agreed to work towards World Heritage listing for the 96 kilometre track, where 600 Aussie diggers died fighting the Japanese during World War II.

They also agreed that sustainable development, such as water, health, education and sanitation projects, should be allowed to provide income and infrastructure for communities along the track.

The Australian mining company Frontier Resources had been hoping to gain renewed approval to explore a site near the track, and recently scaled back its proposal to reduce the impact on the site.

But PNG's Environment Minister Benny Allan said no new exploration licence would be granted.

He said said a taskforce had convinced landowner groups, who had stood to make millions from the Frontier proposal, not to proceed.

He said discussions were underway on compensation for the affected communities.