163 years ago on November 29 the first regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society was established.
Irkutsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society is one of the oldest branches. It was founded in 1851 on the initiative of Governor Nikolai Muravev (later Muravev-Amursky) and was originally called the East Siberian branch of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society. For a long time it was one of the most powerful centers for the study of nature, geography and ethnography of the Far East and Siberia. The studies were conducted in the field of cartography, comprehensive description of the districts, study of communication lines, statistics, mineral resources, vegetation, soils, climate, hydrology and archeology. Irkutsk geographers helped establish a permanent connection between the Russians and the local population. Beside scientific results it lead to public contributions - museums, scientific libraries, astronomical observatories, weather stations and, at the beginning of the XX century, higher education institutions were established.
Brilliant group of researchers worked in the East Siberian branch: Nikolai Przewalski, Peter Kropotkin, Ivan Chersky, Nikolai Yadrintsev, Grigory Potanin, Dmitry Klements, Vladimir Obruchev and other scientists. Departments of mathematical and physical geography, statistics and ethnography were established. In the XIX century Richard Maak’s Viluiskaya and Amur expeditions, Kropotkin’s Sungari, Olekminsk-Viluiskaya and Tunkinskaya expeditions, Przewalski’s Ussuri expedition were organized.
The successful work of the Branch became possible thanks to the support of merchants and patrons: Stepan Solovyov, Innokenty Sibiryakov, Sergey Trapeznikov, Ivan Bazanov, Pavel Basnin and many others. After the revolution the work of the branch officially resumed in 1947.
Today there are 10 departments of the Branch: historico-geographical department, department of physiography, of socio-economy, of eco-geography, of cartography and geoinformation system, museum, tourism and recreation, speleology, archaeology and ethnography. There is the Russian Geographical Society local branch in Baikal and offices in Bratsk, Angarsk, Shelikhov, Ust-Ilimsk and other cities and districts of the region.
Nowadays the tradition of philanthropy in Siberia continues. In 2011, in Irkutsk Oblast it was decided to form a Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society’s regional branch. The then-governor of the region Dmitry Mezentsev agreed to head the Council. After the governor election in the summer of 2012 new governor Sergey Eroschenko headed the Board.
The Council consists of the heads of leading companies, banks and media of the region: JSC "Irkutskenergo", LLC "Gazprom mining Irkutsk", LLC "Irkutsk Oil Company", JSC "BaikalWestCom" , Baikal Bank, JSC "Sberbank of Russia", "East-Siberian Pravda" ,"Komsomolskaya Pravda" and others, as well as members of the regional administration and well-known scientists.
The regional competition of projects is held annually. In three years 109 applications were submitted, 52 of them received grants of the regional Board of Trustees in the amount of 3,880,000 rubles and have been successfully implemented.
In early December the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees will take place. It will be the 8th one This time it will be held in conjunction with the Academic Council of Irkutsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society.
The regulation of the awards of the branch is to be adopted.
In addition, the participants will hear the story about the XV Congress and the Festival of the Russian Geographical Society and the Branch’s grant program-2014 results.Vladislav Lachkarev, a member of the Board of Trustees will speak about his ascent of Everest and the conquest of the highest point of the planet.