Irina Chebakova

1998 Associate Laureate, Environment
Russia, Born 1958

Project Goal

Raise funds and public awareness for nature protection through mass marches

Location: Russia

"It was necessary to change public attitudes. It was also necessary to convince administrators of the zapovedniks [nature reserves] that the reserves could not survive without public support.”

With its vast 22 million square kilometres (8.5 million square miles) of land, the former Soviet Union has a fabulous natural heritage ranging from islands in the Arctic to the deserts of Central Asia. But political and economic upheavals in recent years have made it increasingly difficult for Russia and the former Soviet Republics to protect this heritage.

Irina Chebakova, a 39-year-old nature reserve specialist, was inspired by an American friend to introduce the movement "March for Parks" to Russia in 1995. Since that date, Chebakova has organized dozens of marches attended by hundreds of thousands of people, and these annual events are helping to change public attitudes and to involve Russian civil society — including the private sector — in nature conservation.

Other 1998 Associate Laureates