Masing was born on April 11, 1925 in Tartu. He got his secondary school
education in Poeglaste Gümnaasium, where his father was teacher in
physics. As a schoolboy he got acquainted with ornitologist Johannes Lepiksaar,
whose modern ideas in ecology and ethology were very attractive, and began
regular observations on bird nesting habits in parks of Tartu.
The war disrupted his studies for two years. But he has luck to survive the war without being wounded. Good knowledge of Russian and German languages gave him chance to escape executions in Russian and Chech prisoners’ camps. He returned home in autumn 1945 already and continued studies in the secondary school.
After graduation of Tartu University in 1951, qualified as zoologist and biology teacher, he was not alloweed to continue his teacher’s career. He found a job in Faculties of Forestry and Amelioration of the Estonian Agricultural Academy and could work on his first scientific degree about Estonian bogs.
Since 1956 V. Masing has been working at the Department of Plant Taxonomy and Ecology of Tartu University as senior lecturer (1956-59), assistant professor (1959-1970) and professor (1970-1983). He took his Doctor of Biology degree in 1969.
V. Masing lectured on botany, biogeography, telmatology (mire science), forest ecology and plant resources. He supervised students summer work and excursions. He organized field trips through climatic zones to the Chibinae Mountains, North Urals, Ukrainian steppe, West Siberia and Lake Baikal.
V. Masing took part in two Arctic and three Far-East expeditions. He collected plants and made photos in a number of State Nature Reserves in the former Soviet Union, and afterwards, between 1989 and 1991, in National Parks in Australia. He has written textbooks, travel books and five books for children.
In the framework of the International Biological Programme he was the chairman of a regional Telma project and compiled, with his coauthor Marina Botch, a list of mires meriting conservation in the U.S.S.R. In the Man and Biosphere programme he investigated urban ecosystems. He also took part in the Project on Wetland dynamics led by Bernard Patten.
In the period of 1969-1981 he made his cobtribution to the Estonian Encyclopaedia as member of staff, main edotor of children’s encyclopaedia and Ecological Dictionary.
He has got the following awards: Estonian State Award 1977 and 1982, Literature Award 1985. Estonian Order of Coat of Arms 1996. Medal of Tartu University and Medal of Academy of Sciences in 1996, E. Kumari Nature Conservation Award 1992, Award of Open Estonian Fund 1997.
Since 1993 V. Masing is the Member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences (biogeography). Member of six scientific societies in Baltic Region, among them Honorary Member of Estonian Naturalists’ Society (1985) and Finnish Biological Society ‘Vanamo’ (1976). Since 1999 he is the Honorary Citizen of Tartu.