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Igor graduated in 1985 with completed his-MSc in Zoology and Botany with a thesis on 'Brown bear use of territory in the Western Caucasus'. In 1990 studied Pollution and Environmental Control at the University of Manchester in the UK, obtaining an MSc in 1991 from Manchester on 'Potential Use of Economic Valuation Techniques in Soviet System of Environmental Impact Assessment'. That same year he was awarded his doctorate in biology from the Moscow Sate University with the thesis 'Systematics and Ecology of the Brown Bears in the Caucasus'.

He took part in various scientific expeditions, supervised students, and led many scientific projects. He received grants and awards for research and travel from several world-respected institutions and published over 40 scientific publications in various journals, mostly dedicated to large predators and their habitats.

In 1996 Dr Igor Chestin took the position of WWF International Representative and WWF Russian Programme Office Director. At that time it was a small Moscow based organisation with just over 10 employees and US$500,000 annual budget provided by the WWF network. Over time, the organisation developed into a leading Russian environmental NGO with the Russian Board, five field offices from the Atlantic to the Pacific, over 100 employees and US$12m dollar budget, much of which is comes from national funding.

Igor has given several national and international awards, including ‘The Green Person of the Year’ (2002), Honoured Nature Conservationist (Ministry of Natural Resources, 2004). In 2002 he was elected as a member of Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. In 2004 Igor became a Knight of the Order of the Golden Ark – international environmental recognition award established by Prince Bernard of the Netherlands. In June 2013 he was named an honoured ecologist of the Russian Federation.


  • –present
    Academician, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences