Committee & Staff

Rob Hescock HVP Plantations VFPA Chair

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.

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 is looking forward to telling the amazing stories forestry has to offer.

Our Governing Council

Phil Mason Deputy Chair

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.

Paul Heubner

Pentarch Forestry

Paul Heubner joined Pentarch Forestry as a Shipping Operations Manager in 2000 and developed through several roles including Chartering Manager, GM of Shipping and Marketing, Group GM Pentarch Forestry and ultimately was appointed CEO in 2016. 

As CEO, Paul manages Pentarch Forestry and Allied Natural Wood Exports (ANWE) groups and reports to the boards of these companies.

Hamish Little AKD Softwoods

Hamish Little

AKD Softwoods

Hamish Little is General Manager Operations of Associated Kiln Driers Pty Ltd (trading as AKD Softwoods), an Australian owned and operated integrated forestry and timber processing company with operations in Victoria, NSW, and QLD. He has 12 years of experience working in the private forestry and timber processing sector and currently manages AKD’s Sawmill and Forestry Operations.

Hamish has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from The University of Adelaide, and a Diploma in Forestry Management from the University of Melbourne. 

Joel Turner

PF Olsen Australia

Joel Turner is National Operations Manager at PF Olsen (Aus) Pty Ltd, managing over 140,000 hectares of hardwood and softwood plantation assets in Victoria, SA, NSW, WA and Tasmania. With over 18 years’ forestry experience, Joel has worked extensively in  plantation management, including environment programs. 

Joel holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science and an Associate Degree of Forest Management, where he achieved Deans Honors for 2007. He is currently an associate board member of the Green Triangle Forestry Industries Hub.

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

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.