5 – Environment

5.1 Environment and site related planning

For course and element details refer to Equipment section ‘Artificial surfaces and elements design and construction’.

5.1.1 Challenge course environment considerations

Other environmental considerations other than climate or weather for challenge courses MAY include but is not limited to:

  • the possible fauna at the challenge course
  • the terrain surrounding the challenge course.

5.2 Course design and construction

Refer to Equipment section ‘Artificial surfaces and elements design and construction’.



5.3 Weather

5.3.1 Weather information

Appropriate sources MUST be used for:

  • current and forecast weather
  • current and forecast weather warnings.

5.3.2 Severe weather

The following table details the:

  • current Australian weather warnings
  • associated weather for each warning
  • mainland warning trigger points for issuing warnings for strong winds and hail.

Bureau of Meteorology weather warnings and associated weather Table:

Severe Weather Warning Severe

Thunderstorm Warning

Coastal Waters Wind Warning Tropical Cyclone Advice: Watch or Warning
High tides      
Large surf      
Heavy rain/flash flooding Heavy rain/flash flooding    
Strong winds

Wind >63 km/h

Gusts >90 km/h

Strong winds

Gusts >90 km/h

Strong winds

Wind >48 km/h or >26 knots

Strong winds

Wind >62 km/h or >=34 knots

  Hail (>=2cm)    


5.3.3 Weather triggers

Trigger points MUST be based on relevant Bureau of Meteorology weather forecasts and warnings and actual weather conditions.

The risk management plan and emergency management plan SHOULD include guidance on trigger points and associated actions for:

  • wind speeds or wind gusts that make the course or element(s) unsuitable for use
  • weather conditions that limit visual/verbal direct supervision
  • lightning
  • severe weather warnings
  • thunderstorm warnings
  • tropical cyclone advice: watch and warning
  • cold temperature
  • extreme hot temperatures.

Actions for weather triggers MAY include but are not limited to:

  • cancellation of activity
  • postponing the activity
  • modifying the activity
  • evacuating to a safe location
  • avoid locations effected by tides or surf
  • avoiding areas that have the potential for flash flooding
  • preparations to avoid the risks associated with lightning
  • preparations to avoid the risks associated with blizzards
  • moving to areas that are protected from strong winds and/or hail
  • managing risks of flying or falling items during strong winds.

5.3.4 Lightning

Whilst thunder is audible groups SHOULD avoid:

  • being on high elements
  • being in unsuitable locations.

When thunder is audible, a suitable location SHOULD be sort, to wait out the thunder storm.

Considerations for locations to waiting out the thunder storm SHOULD include but not limited to avoiding:

  • being on high elements
  • being connected to metal structures, cable or equipment
  • being on the highest ground in the area
  • tall trees or structures that may act like a lightning rod
  • water saturated ground near watercourses
  • locations where group is unable to spread out.

5.4 Bushfire, prescribed fire and fire danger

Refer ‘Core Good Practice Guide’ section – Bush fire, prescribed fire and fire danger.

5.5 Flooding

Areas subject to flooding or flood warnings SHOULD be avoided.

Areas likely to experience flash flooding SHOULD be avoided during severe weather or thunderstorms.

5.6 Wildlife safety

Procedures SHOULD be in place to minimise the risks associated with any fauna or flora that MAY be encountered.

The types of wildlife encounters that MAY need to be considered include but is not limited to:

  • snakes
  • ants
  • bees
  • wasps
  • nesting birds
  • other local fauna.

5.7 Tree safety

Refer the Equipment sections – ‘Construction’ and ‘Inspection & maintenance’ regarding requirements relating to courses or element(s) using trees as part of their structure.

Weather based trigger(s) as to when to avoid operating activities in or below trees SHOULD be established.

Where element(s) are located or the activities are regularly conducted under trees, a risk assessment of the trees by an appropriately competent person MUST be completed periodically.


5.8 Environmental sustainability procedures

Also refer Core Good Practice Guide – Environmental sustainability procedures.

5.8.1 Design and construction environmental sustainability

For considerations refer to AS 2316.2.1:2016 Artificial climbing structures and challenge courses Part 2.1: Flying foxes and challenge ropes courses—Construction and safety requirements (EN 15567-1:2007, MOD).

5.8.2 Temporary elements environmental sustainability

Refer design and construction section above.

5.8.3 Sustainability procedures

The procedures may include but is not limited to procedures listed in ‘Core Good Practice Guide’ Environmental sustainability and the following: Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Travelling in an area on durable surfaces may include but is not limited to:

  • Utilise recognised tracks to approach and move within the challenge course
  • Locate waiting areas that have a firm base and can tolerate groups without causing vegetation damage and erosion
  • Actively managing participants to minimise trampling and damage to the surrounding vegetation
  • Utilise temporary erosion control or vegetation protection measures in heavy traffic areas around elements. – Leave what you find

Leave what you find may include but is not limited to:

  • Rope protectors or slings SHOULD be used to protect trees or other vegetation if used for belay points
  • Steps SHOULD be taken to prevent soil compaction around the roots system of living trees – Be considerate of your hosts and other visitors

Be considerate of your hosts and other visitors MAY include but is not limited to:

  • Locate equipment, active participant(s) and participants non-actively participating so they allow free access to tracks
  • Encourage quiet communication to minimise the noise.


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