Committee & Staff


Our Chairman

Rob Hescock,
HVP Plantations

Rob Hescock represents the softwood plantation sector having worked in the industry across Victoria for many years. Currently he is the Chief Operating Officer for HVP Plantations. Although based in Melbourne, he spends most of his time in the three regions that encompass the northeast and western areas of the state as well the large softwood region in Gippsland. 

Stewardship of the environment and maintaining viable domestic contractors and processing facilities are key areas of interest. Along with his partner and family he also operates a farming enterprise with a strong focus on environmental enhancement.


Deborah Kerr

Deb Kerr brings to the inaugural CEO role extensive experience in the primary industries sector, having worked in various industry representative roles, and most recently as a senior executive with Australian Pork Limited. That wealth of experience gives Deb the skills to represent Victoria’s forest products industry with the State Government and in the wider Victorian community. Deb is excited about showcasing the vital role the forestry products sector plays as a sustainably operated employer and producer, providing the renewable products used by Australians every day in more ways than they probable realise.

Ulrike Andresen-Nikolai

Public & Media Relations Manager

Ulrike Andresen-Nikolai

Ulrike Andresen-Nikolai has worked in media relations and communications for over 10 years. Most recently, she worked as communications manager for the German-Australian Chamber of Industry & Commerce, a not-for-profit membership organisation representing German companies in Australia. 

Ulrike has an MA in Media Management from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. Combining digital PR expertise with a keen interest in media relations, advocacy, and communication strategies, Ulrike loves telling the amazing stories forestry has to offer.

Our Governing Council


Phil Mason

Deputy Chair; New Forests

Phil Mason is an experienced forester responsible for the operational management of assets in Australia, with primary responsibility for the New Forests’ first Australia New Zealand Forest Fund, which consists of approximately AUD 3 billion of assets comprising approximately 120,000 hectares of hardwood plantations, 85,000 hectares of softwood plantations, and softwood sawmilling assets.

Phil’s forestry career includes more than 20 years’ experience in operational forestry and consulting with diverse experience throughout Australia, the Pacific, Asia, and South Africa.


Darren Shelden

Treasurer; Australian Bluegum Plantations

Darren Shelden has been extensively involved in Australia’s plantation forestry industry for over 20 years, across all facets from land procurement to export. Darren has a Bachelor of Forest Science from the University of Melbourne and is a Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

Darren is an Ambassador for the Great South Coast Food and Fibre Council and is a Director of Timber Training Creswick. Darren was also a Director for the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) until its closure at the end of 2020.


Mike Lawson

SFM Asset Management

Mike Lawson is the General Manager of SFM Asset Management (SFM), the mainland branch of parent company SFM Environmental Solutions based in Southern Tasmania. SFM manage softwood and hardwood plantation forest assets for a variety of clients in Victoria, WA, SA, and Tasmania.

Mike has 23 years’ experience in the forest industry, predominantly in Tasmania followed closely by the Green Triangle region of Victoria and South Australia. Mike has held a variety of roles across the sector ranging from operational roles through to senior management.

Steve Allan square

Stephen Allan

Pentarch Forestry

Stephen Allan is the General Manager – Operations for Pentarch Forestry, joining the Pentarch Group in 2002 Steve has worked in numerous areas of the Pentarch Forestry business over the past 21 years.

As General Manager of Operations Steve has overall responsibility for Pentarch Forestry’s solid log and chip export operations, Ports and facility management, Pallet manufacturing, forests, and forest management functions.

Owen Trumper

Owen Trumper

AKD Softwoods

Owen Trumper is a senior executive with significant experience in the forest industry in three countries. His appointments have covered general management, safety, human resources, labour relations, forest engineering, project, supply chain and contractor management, stakeholder engagement, sales negotiations, strategic planning and more. 

Owen is currently the General Manager Forestry at AKD Softwoods as well as board member has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from The University of Adelaide, and a Diploma in Forestry Management from the University of Melbourne. 


Tim Benny

PF Olsen Australia

Tim is the PF Olsen (Aus) Regional Manager for the Green Triangle, managing plantation hardwood and softwood assets in Victoria, SA and Tasmania for a variety of clients. With over 20 years experience in the Forestry Industry, working in New Zealand, Scotland and Australia.  Tim has a Bachelor of Forestry Science from the University of Canterbury (NZ). Tim has extensive experience from seed production and tree breeding, sawmilling, export operations through to managing harvesting operation and forest management.

Tim is currently a committee member of the Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards (GTTIA).


Sarah Harvie

Opal ANZ

Sarah Harvie brings over 20 years’ experience as a senior communications practitioner across a broad range of industries. She has worked in private, public, and consulting sectors and has experience across external and internal communications, stakeholder and government relations, and media and issues management.

Vince Hurley

Vince Hurley

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH)

Vince Hurley commenced with Australian Sustainable Hardwoods Pty Ltd (ASH) in 1992 when the business was Neville Smith Timber Industries. Prior to this, Vince worked as a forester and has a long family association with hardwood sawmilling. He has a Bachelor Forest Science (Hons) 1985 from the University of Melbourne. Vince is a member of the Institute of Foresters of Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Daniel Pote

Powelltown Sawmill

For the past 5 years, Dan has been involved with Powelltown Sawmills where he currently is the CEO. Previously, he held key commercial roles across various industries including FMCGs, sports and entertainment in renowned organisations such as Unilever, Mattel, Etihad Stadium, AFL & Disney. Dan’s career has seen him hold senior leadership/director roles, leadership of large teams, member of executive teams and participation in strategic acquisitions and negotiations. 

He looks forward to bringing his business expertise, together with his passion for educating key stakeholders, government, and the public about the benefits of native timber, to the Victorian Forest Products Association. 

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