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Fast-moving, rainfall-induced debris-flow events are relatively common in the mountainous areas of the UK. Their impacts are largely, although by no means exclusively, economic and social. They often sever (or delay) access to and from relatively remote communities for services and markets for goods; employment, health and educational opportunities; and social activities. Specific forms of economic impact are described and their extent is defined by the vulnerability shadow. The mechanisms of rainfall-induced, fast-moving debris flows are considered to bridge between slow mass movements and flood phenomena. The occurrence of debris flows is largely restricted to mountainous areas and a series of case studies from Scotland is briefly described. Hazard and risk assessment are briefly considered and a strategic approach to risk reduction is described. The latter allows a clear focus on that overall goal before concentrating on the desired outcomes and the generic approach to achieving those outcomes. The effects of climate change on debris-flow hazard and risk are also considered and it is concluded that, in Scotland, increases in debris-flow frequency and/or magnitude are most likely and that increases in the risks associated with debris flows are also likely.

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