Friends of Nature

Friends of Nature (international abbreviation: NFI, for German : Naturfreunde International) is an international movement with a background in the Social Democratic movement , which aims to make nature accessible to the wider community by providing appropriate recreational and travel facilities. It is a non profit organization which, in addition to encouraging green tourism , which has a minimal effect on the environment, also aims to promote international friendship and understanding.

It is also known as Naturfreunde (German), Les Amis de la Nature (French), Amici della Natura (Italian), La Naturamikoj (Esperanto), and Natuurvrienden or NIVON (Dutch).

The organisation was founded in Vienna in 1895 as Naturfreunde among people associated with the emerging Social Democratic movement who enjoyed outdoor activities and began to build their own huts and overnight chalets. The movement spread and it now has 600,000 members, 3500 groups and runs some 1000 houses mainly in Europe. The houses vary in size and facilities.

In the age of incipient tourism the organisation succeeded in making nature accessible to broader population strata by providing requisite recreational and travel facilities.

Even then, the organisation’s activities were aimed at getting people to beautiful natural settings, at awakening their love of nature and at imparting to them knowledge about nature and culture. Parallel with the rise of the modern industrialised society and of commercial tourism the Friends of Nature developed a professional commitment to nature and environment protection and had a major share in advancing the theory and practice of alternative forms of ecological tourism.

The organisation was banned by the Nazis in 1933, but revived in 1945.

The work of the Friends of Nature rests on the conviction that people’s opportunities of personal development are inextricably linked with the protection of nature and the conservation of natural resources.

Hence, the Friends of Nature have, since their inception, taken a stand for the conservation of an environment worth living in, for peace and international understanding, for the social and democratic rights of all people, and for a meaningful organisation of leisure time. Building on their century-old tradition, the Friends of Nature are nowadays committed to the implementation of sustainable development, in particular to transboundary environmental solutions and to an environmentally and socially sound tourism.