Five years after Villalba’s appointment, a law was passed that was designed to protect Argentina’s glaciers. Recognizing their importance as water reserves, the country’s senate elected to preserve the glaciers by restricting industrial activity in surrounding areas. As part of this new legislation, IANIGLA was tasked with creating a National Inventory of Glaciers. It was the first such inventory in Argentina’s history.
In 2011, work on the inventory began. Under Villalba’s direction, a team of scientists used satellite images of Argentina’s terrain to document the country’s glaciers. Although the research is still ongoing, it has currently cataloged more than 14,500 ice bodies with a combined area of over 2,000 square miles.
The scientists behind the glacier inventory hope that it will help Argentina’s authorities to better understand this vital resource. However, there are some who claim that Villalba’s research was biased from the start. In fact, according to activists in the northern community of San José de Jáchal, the results were deliberately manipulated in order to favor corporate interests.