The State Forest Department has made the preliminary move to get the Pallikaranai marshland declared as a Ramsar site by submitting a compliance report to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

A detailed report has been prepared by the Forest Department, complying with various requirements of the Ramsar convention. The report was sent last week, a Forest official told The Hindu.

The department in its report stated that the topography of the marsh was such that it always retained some storage, thus forming an aquatic ecosystem. A study in 2007 showed that the marsh has been home for naturally occurring plants belonging to 60 species; more than 45 species of fishes; more than 100 species of birds; 20 species of reptiles; nine species of amphibians and seven species of butterflies, besides molluscs and crustaceans.

Added to that is the latest report on the sighting of white-spotted garden skink and Russell's Viper the most widespread Asian wipers, confirm its value to ecological status, the officer said.

The Pallikaranai marshland is among the few and last remaining natural wetlands of south India.

The place is a formation of a low lying fresh water marsh, adjacent to the Bay of Bengal, situated about 20 km south of Chennai city.

The Department had justified that as the marshland contained rare or endangered and threatened species, which acted as a forage and breeding ground for thousands of migratory birds from various places within and outside the country, the officer said.

The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance and to plan for the wise use or sustainable use of all the wetlands in their territories.

R.J. Ranjit Daniels, co-founder, Care Earth, a bio-diversity research organisation said according Ramsar Site status to Pallikaranai marsh would get an international recognition to the place, as it is considered as a globally important place.