Wetlands have shrunk in size and significance due to rampant urbanisation. The protected area of Pallikaranai marsh is not even one-tenth of its original size today.

In fact, a majority of wetlands across the city and its suburbs have gone the same way. On World Biodiversity Day on Wednesday, pivoting around the theme of ‘water and biodiversity’, conservationists emphasised the need to preserve what is left of these wetlands.

Jayshree Vencatesan of CareEarth, a Chennai-based biodiversity research organisation, said: “We have identified 474 wetlands in greater Chennai of which 43 are in need of immediate attention.” The ones in Ambattur, Korattur, Madhavaram, Narayanapuram, Pallavaram Periya Eri, Velacherry and Porur are on this list.

Ms. Vencatesan said: “These wetlands can’t be restored without the efforts of various agencies including the forest department, Metrowater, Corporation and voluntary organisations.”

At a time when groundwater levels are plummeting alarmingly, destruction of existing wetlands will have serious implications.  

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