Gippsland Forestry Hub Executive Committee

Simon Gatt
AKD Softwood logo

Simon Gatt

Simon Gatt has lived in Gippsland for 30 years and has a passion for the positive way the forestry and wood products industry contributes to the Gippsland community. During this time, he has worked in the forestry industry both in the public and private sectors across a range of native forest and plantation settings. Now as Resource Manager of Associated Kiln Driers Pty Ltd (trading as AKD Softwoods) which is 100% Australian owned and operated integrated forestry and timber processing company with operations in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

As a regional employer, AKD plays an active part in supporting a variety of local community activities and sees its employees as the vital ingredient in its past and future success. Simon has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Melbourne and an MBA from Deakin University. His extensive networks and forestry experience compliment his role as Chair of the Gippsland Forestry Hub.

HVP Plantations logo

Lou Bourke
(Deputy Chair)


Ian Reid headshot
Austimber logo

Ian Reid

Ian Reid is the managing director of Gippsland based Austimber Harvesting & Haulage Pty Ltd. This company has several contracts for the harvesting of Plantation Pine and Ash for Hancock Victorian Plantations throughout their Gippsland and Northern Victoria plantations. The company operates several fully mechanised crews in both thinning and clear fell operations. A believer in innovation, automation advances and new technology Ian is always looking for opportunities to bring improvement to the company’s operation.

Ian is a former director of the Australian Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) from 2008-2016 and was the Chairman of AFCA from 2012-2016. He also was the Chair of the organising committee for the AUSTimber2016 Expo held at Traralgon in 2016.

Ian has been a member of the Victorian Government Forestry Industry Council since 2015 and was appointed the councils Chairman in 2016.

Ian is a passionate supporter of the timber industry, the contractors involved and their workforce. Through his membership in the above organisations he continues to promote the benefits of a good sustainable timber industry for local and regional communities, the maintenance of a safe working environment for all workers and the environmental benefits that the industry provides. With this professionalism he believes the industry will be one of the success stories of the 21st century.

Photo of Tony Cantwell
Logo for Committee for Gippsland

Tony Cantwell

Passionate about Gippsland’s future, Tony is committed to helping realise opportunities the region has to offer.

He has a lifelong connection to Gippsland’s agriculture sector, growing up as part of a family-run beef farm in South Gippsland.

Tony has worked across the private, government and not-for-profit sectors both locally and in Melbourne.

Beginning his career as a journalist at a local Gippsland newspaper, Tony then went on to study law and work as a commercial litigation lawyer with a full-service commercial law firm based in Melbourne.

Tony has served on the Board of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, as part of their Director’s First Program, and is currently on the Committee at the Stony Creek Racing Club. He is a graduate of the Gippsland Community Leadership Program.

National Timber Councils logo

Sandy Kam

Sandy Kam is the National Co-ordinator of the National Timber Councils Association (NTCA). The National Timber Councils Association Incorporated provides local government from across Australia with a peak national body advocating from a local perspective on issues affecting local communities, industry, the environment and government in timber regions. Previous to this position, Sandy was a Mayor and Councillor at Latrobe City Council for over 9 years. During that time Sandy lead the process for Latrobe City Council to consider adopting a Wood Encouragement Policy which resulted in Latrobe City Council being the first Council in Australia to adopt such a policy.

Trevor Nicklen
VicForests logo

Trevor Nicklen

Trevor Nicklen has over 20 years’ experience working in the native forest industry in Victoria, primarily for VicForests in operational production forestry with a focus on planning, harvesting and regeneration.  During this time Trevor has also worked extensively in forest and fire management within the Gippsland region. Trevor has been a long-time advocate for sustainable forest management and passionate supporter of a sustainable timber industry.  More recently Trevor has taken on the role as Senior Farm Forestry Officer with the primary focus to establish, develop, promote, and manage a farm forestry program in Gippsland.

Opal paper logo

Steven Zyhajlo

Nick is currently Commercial Manager at Opal Australian Paper Maryvale.

Headshot of Lesia Clark
Gippsland Forestry Hub logo

Lesia Goodwin
(General Manager)

Lesia has more than 20 years extensive experience in education and training, client relationship management and stakeholder engagement within the Forest Industry, Lesia has excellent time management and skills in prioritisation. Lesia has proven expertise in the management of projects, programs, and organisational initiatives.

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