Minimising impacts to launch the ACT's first ski run in 21 years

Wednesday, 7 September, 2016

Corin Forest Mountain Retreat is Australia’s smallest ski slope and since reopening in 2014, the snow play area has been hugely popular with young Canberran families keen to have their first snow experience.

Located in a secluded alpine valley only half an hour outside of Canberra in the Tidbinbilla area, this tiny resort has a maximum capacity of 150 people. With its popularity growing amongst beginners wanting to avoid the crowds, in 2016 Corin Forest undertook plans to build a beginner ski slope.

After Corin Forest identified that protected ecological communities occurred in the area, Eco Logical Australia (ELA) was brought on board to provide initial field surveys, preliminary advice and a constraints analysis for the new development works.

ELA’s team employed the alpine ecology skills of Ryan Smithers from our Narooma office and the ACT planning skills of our Canberra office. The field work identified the primary constraint of the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens endangered ecological community (alpine swamps, bogs or wet heathlands) which occur in the location of the proposed ski slope and adjacent areas.

ELA facilitated a pre-DA discussion with ACT planning and Environment ACT and completed a comprehensive flora and fauna assessment report to inform an Application for an Environmental Significance Opinion (ESO). The proposal was designed to minimise impacts on the endangered ecological community by avoiding any slope grooming activities that involved excavation or filling, and maintaining a minimum groundcover height to minimize the potential impacts associated with ski slope use and maintenance. The resulting impact was less than half a hectare, a small proportion of the local occurrence of the community.

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After lots of hard work and a gift from the snow gods, Corin Forest’s first ski run opened in early June 2016. The first downhill skiing offered in the ACT since 1995 and surrounded by stunning mountain ash forests along the banks of Gibraltar Creek, Corin Forest has become beginners’ favourite, particularly with little ones keen to master the art of epic jumps.