Law passed to protect glaciers


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Buenos Aires, 22 of October (Télam).- The Chamber of Senators has passed a law that establishes minimum budgets for the protection of glaciers and the periglacial environment to preserve them as strategic reserves or water resources and critical to the recharging of hydrographic basins. 

The project establishes a precise and clear definition of what is understood as glaciers and the periglacial environment. It also prohibits and/or restricts certain projects or activities in glacial or periglacial environments such as the release of contaminants, the construction of buildings, mineral exploration and exploitation and the establishment of new industry among other activities. 

The law also requires the inventory and monitor of the state of glaciers with the intent to protect them.

Senator Daniel Filmus, president of the Commission of Environment and Sustainable Development, emphasized the importance of the approved law and explained that the 70% of fresh water is frozen in glaciers, but that less than the 1% of the world’s water resources are available for human consumption. 

During the defence of the project, Filmus stated, “There is no question that the protection and valuation of glaciers, as ecosystems that are a fundamental part of the natural environment of our country and that represent one of the most important freshwater reserves for the Patagonian region, should be recognized and promoted by a national law." 

The new law creates a National Inventory of Glaciers which will be carried out by the Argentinean Institute of Snow Studies, Glaciology and Environmental Science (IANIGLA) in coordination with the enforcing authority. (The law establishes that this authority will be of the organization with the highest hierarchy within the nation with environmental competency) 

Likewise, activities that are not prohibited by the law will be required to conduct an environmental impact study, evaluating any damaging effects on the glaciers, in order to be approved.

Ricardo Villalba
Instituto Argentino de Nivología
Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales (IANIGLA)
C.C. 330, (5500) Mendoza, Argentina