Executive Team

Director & Chief Executive (2023)

David Harland

David is a highly regarded leader in the global biodiversity sector. Prior to working at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, David held several executive roles at the internationally renowned Eden Project, a leading visitor attraction and botanic garden located in Cornwall, in the United Kingdom. He was CEO of the Eden Project during the pandemic 2020-2022 period, overseeing a major reorganisation of the operational, educational and commercial aspects of the business, and as CEO of Eden Project International, and has led Eden’s expansion through multiple projects and iterations across the UK and the world

Executive Director Corporate (2019)

Fiona McLaughlin BA GAICD.

Leads and promotes Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria to achieve the highest standards in horticulture, science, financial management and a broad range of visitor and education programs. Ms McLaughlin has over 15 years’ experience in public sector governance, financial management and strategy, having held previous senior management positions at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria Legal Aid and the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Executive Director Science (2006)

Professor David Cantrill PhD, BSc (Hons).

Responsible for leading research into plant biodiversity, systematics, conservation, and management of the State Botanical Collection, with statutory responsibility under the Royal Botanic Gardens Act 1991 and the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981. Professor Cantrill worked as a senior research scientist in Europe for 15 years, first for the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge and later at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. He has published over 120 scientific articles; is an editor of Grana, an international journal for pollen studies; and sits on a number of international editorial and scientific advisory boards. His research interests focus on integrating information from fossil and living floras to understanding the origins of patterns of diversity in the southern hemisphere. He holds an honorary professorship with the School of BioSciences at The University of Melbourne.

Executive Director Melbourne Gardens (2010)

Chris Cole Dip Hort (Kew).

Responsible for horticultural planning and operations, including landscape planning, management and development of living plant collections and nursery operations at Melbourne Gardens. Mr Cole is also responsible for arboriculture and management of site facilities and infrastructure at Melbourne and Cranbourne Gardens. He provides direction for managing the development and implementation of Integrated Water Management and Landscape Succession projects at Melbourne Gardens. He has over 15 years’ experience in public and botanic gardens management and has worked at Hampton Court Palace, National Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Townsville Botanic Gardens.

Executive Director Cranbourne Gardens (2001)

Chris Russell BSc (Hons), Grad Dip Land Rehab.

Responsible for the leadership, management and operation of Cranbourne Gardens encompassing the Australian Garden and significant conservation areas, including horticultural planning and operations, natural areas research and management, and development and implementation of the site Master Plan. Mr Russell is also responsible for delivery of capital works projects, strategic input into land-use planning and relationship management in the region, as well as organisational OHS and aspects of environmental systems management across Cranbourne and Melbourne Gardens. Prior to joining Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Mr Russell had experience in environmental management and capital projects with Parks Victoria (formerly National Parks Service Victoria), the building industry, and scientific research.