“Chennai that once had an extensive coastline has now been taken over by manmade habitations,” Tara Gandhi, vice president of Madras Naturalists’ Society said at Women’s Christian College (WCC) on Wednesday.

While delivering the Renuka Mukerji Somasekhar Endowment Lecture, instituted by the college in memory of its former principal, on ‘Saving Nature in a City’, Ms. Gandhi said that places like Guindy National Park, Pallikaranai marsh and Vandalur reserve forest are now remnants of an earlier era.

“Development changes that are taking place in the city are, in a way, destroying it. The city is growing both vertically and horizontally thereby making it more crowded and congested. Cities have been carved out of the ecosystem and are replacing the original biodiversity,” she said.

Pallikaranai marsh that once used to be enormous has now shrunk and construction has mushroomed all around it. “But now, the State forest department has taken steps and declared it a protected area. Wetlands like Pallikaranai marsh plays a vital role in preventing floods and also recharge ground water,” Ms. Gandhi said.

Among the strategies that need to be developed for preserving the environment, a systemic disposal of solid and liquid waste was essential, she said.

WCC principal, Ridling Margaret Waller, and head of the department of plant biology and plant biotechnology Jannet Jeyasingh were among those who spoke at the event.