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New executive director for Naturefriends International – Andrea Lichtenecker

As of 2015, Naturefriends International (NFI) has a new executive director: the Management Committee appointed Andrea Lichtenecker as the first woman to lead the umbrella organisation of the Naturefriends movement, which counts more than 500,000 members and champions sustainable and socially just tourism and leisure-time activities, protection of our natural heritage and the climate as well as climate justice. Being a member of the "Green 10", NFI is also active at the EU level, influencing political strategies and European policy-making.

"Connecting environmental issues with social concerns and supporting the sustainable development of our society have always been the objectives of the Naturefriends movement and are as relevant now as 120 years ago, when Naturefriends were founded," says the new executive director. "It is a wonderful yet challenging responsibility to internationally pursue these objectives together with our member organisations and our partners."

The new executive director
Andrea Lichtenecker graduated from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna and first worked in the university field and implemented contract projects on environmental protection. Since 2002, she has been the head of Biodiversity & Environmental Education at NFI. She designed the Natura Trails campaign which − with more than 150 Natura Trails all over Europe − communicates the positive aspects of EU nature protection legislation and enables sustainable experiences of biological diversity in protected areas.

Besides fostering sustainable recreational use and socially and environmentally just tourism, she is particularly committed to enabling all population groups to experience nature. "Enabling disadvantaged people to have access to the beauties of our nature is a key topic for Naturefriends. There are still barriers for many people today; just think of people with disabilities, refugees or people lacking the financial means that are often a prerequisite to experience nature."

Besides her expertise in the fields of nature protection, environmental education and recreational use, Andrea Lichtenecker completed an extra-occupational course on the management of non-profit organisations. Her focus is on the strategic development of NFI as well as strengthening the European commitments, establishing long-term cooperations and the developing pilot projects together with national Naturefriends organisations.

The outgoing executive director and secretary general Christian Baumgartner left NFI at the end of December after 10 years of committed Naturefriends work. The international Naturefriends Congress in June 2015 will decide about filling the vacant post of secretary general.

NFI – Naturefriends' international umbrella organisation 
Naturefriends International (NFI) is the umbrella organisation of the national Naturefriends associations. It was founded in 1895, has its head office in Vienna and, with 51 member organisations worldwide, is currently one of the largest non-governmental organisations worldwide. It espouses the cause of sustainable development of the environment and society at regional, national and international levels. As member of the "Green 10" − a coalition of ten leading environmental organisations − NFI is active at the EU level in Brussels and thus makes a contribution to influence political strategies and European policy-making.

Queries and contact:
DI Andrea Lichtenecker, Executive director | +43 1 892 38 77-43 |