Understanding Stakeholder Values in Co-Management Arrangements for Protected Area Establishment on the Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea


  • Amy Reggers
  • Stephen Schweinsberg
  • Stephen Wearing


Kokoda Track, co-management, local communities, stakeholder values, customary landownership, World Heritage


Over recent years, a number of scholars have drawn attention to the importance of broad stakeholder participation in natural resource management. The general trend toward a more democratic attitude amongst many resource management practitioners has also amplified pressure for the development of processes whereby the full spectrum of stakeholders can engage in the development of sustainable natural resource management plans. Theories of co-management have formed an important part of research in this field for a number of years, and more recently there has been a concerted academic attempt to develop methodologies for operationalizing co-management. The aim of this paper is to present an operationalization of the “action arena” developed by Carlsson and Berkes (2005), which is a six-step methodological schema for enacting co-management arrangements in natural resource management. The action arena is essentially the community or resource system under investigation. Carlsson and Berkes (2005) note that first an understanding of the action arena is required prior to proceeding to the management tasks to be performed, and identifying the stakeholder linkages that must be analysed in order to determine opportunities for capacity building and strategies for conflict resolution. The case study for this paper is the Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges, Papua New Guinea. Recent scholarship on the challenges in enacting modernity in Pacific Island nations has drawn attention to the importance of land in all aspects of Pacific Island culture. Stakeholder conceptualisations of land formed the basis for conceptualisation of the action arena for the potential Kokoda Track World Heritage Site. The paper’s lead author conducted preliminary in-depth interviews with Kokoda Track community members, members of the Papua New Guinean and Australian Governments, and the Kokoda Track Authority. These interviews demonstrated the importance of customary landownership principles for facilitating opportunities for local stakeholders to play a role in the self determination of their future. In addition, while the local level resource decision making powers are nested in customary landownership legislation; there are current uncertainties regarding the level of vertical linkages to regional and national decision makers. In stage four of Carlsson and Berkes’ (2005, p. 73) model it is noted that the analysis of stakeholder linkages requires consideration of “how and to what extent the identified relations connect central levels of decision making to the local level.” The paper concludes with preliminary observations from the Kokoda Track case study on how this may be achieved.