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The occurrence of a natural hazard is not generally influenced by human activity, however the effects of the hazard can be reduced or increased as a result of human activities. The key to the management of the effects of natural hazards is the management of human activities in the environment (1) . In other words, the easiest way to control effects is to carefully manage development.
Natural hazards can occur with little warning and cause significant damage to property and the environment and put lives at risk. Natural hazards are only a concern if they have the potential to affect people or property. For example, if a river system floods land that is not used or populated, then the flood is simply a natural event rather than a natural hazard. Increased development will result in a corresponding increase in the hazard associated with natural events that affect the district.
(1) Eriksen, N, 1986: Creating Flood Disasters New Zealand’s need for a new approach to urban flood hazard, Water and Soil Miscellaneous Publication No 77, Wellington.
While natural events such as floods and earthquakes cannot be prevented from occurring, their effects can be minimised by preventing and controlling development in the most hazard-prone areas. Where development occurs in hazard-prone areas, engineering works such as construction of stop banks or strengthening of buildings can mitigate the effects of natural hazards. A crucial role for the Council in areas affected by natural hazards is raising public awareness and ensuring that the public is prepared for emergencies, to reduce the risk to lives and property.