Professor Annette Cowie

Adjunct Professor - School of Environmental and Rural Science

Annette Cowie

Phone: +61 2 6773 3924



Annette Cowie has a background in soil science and plant nutrition, with particular interest in sustainable resource management. She is Principal Research Scientist -Climate, in NSW Department of Primary Industries. From 2009 to early 2014 she was the Director of Rural Climate Solutions, an alliance between NSW DPI and the University of New England. Annette is also Task Leader of the International Energy Agency Bioenergy research network "Climate Change Effects of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems", Land Degradation advisor on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility, and a member of the Science Policy Interface of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Her current research focuses on sustainability assessment and greenhouse gas accounting in agriculture and forestry; investigating key aspects of soil carbon dynamics and biochar processes; and life cycle assessment of forestry, bioenergy and biochar systems.


  • Ph.D., UNE
  • Master of Agricultural Science, University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Rural Science. (Hons I), UNE.  (University Medal, Booth Medal)

Research Interests

  • Sustainable land management  - indicators, assessment, certification and policy development
  • Carbon dynamics in agriculture and forestry
  • Synergies between environmental goals through sustainable land management
  • Estimation and accounting for GHG emissions and removals in agriculture and forestry, for inventory and emissions trading
  • Life cycle assessment, especially to assess the carbon footprint of wood products, and climate change mitigation value of reforestation, bioenergy and biochar systems


Selected recent publications

  1. Rabbi, S. M. F., M. Tighe, A. Cowie, B. R. Wilson, G. Schwenke, M. McLeod, W. Badgery and J. Baldock (2014). "The relationships between land uses, soil management practices, and soil carbon fractions in South Eastern Australia." Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 197(0): 41-52.
  2. Walela, C., H. Daniel, B. Wilson, P. Lockwood, A. Cowie and S. Harden (2014). "The initial lignin:nitrogen ratio of litter from above and below ground sources strongly and negatively influenced decay rates of slowly decomposing litter carbon pools." Soil Biology and Biochemistry 77(0): 268-275.
  3. Bajgai, Y., N. Hulugalle, P. Kristiansen, M. McHenry and A. Cowie (2014). "Residue incorporation mitigates tillage-induced loss of soil carbon in laboratory microcosms." Soil Use and Management 30(3): 328-336.
  4. Quin, P. R., A. L. Cowie, R. J. Flavel, B. P. Keen, L. M. Macdonald, S. G. Morris, B. P. Singh, I. M. Young and L. Van Zwieten (2014). "Oil mallee biochar improves soil structural properties—A study with x-ray micro-CT." Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 191(0): 142-149.
  5. Brandão, M., R. Clift, A. Cowie and S. Greenhalgh (2014). "The Use of Life Cycle Assessment in the Support of Robust (Climate) Policy Making: Comment on "Using Attributional Life Cycle Assessment to Estimate Climate-Change Mitigation …"." Journal of Industrial Ecology 18(3): 461-463.
  6. Pelkmans L, L Goovaerts, CS Goh, M Junginger…Cowie A… 2014 The Role of Sustainability Requirements in International Bioenergy Markets - International Bioenergy Trade, 2014 125-149
  7. Downie A, Lau D, Cowie A, Munroe P 2014 Approaches to greenhouse gas accounting methods for biomass carbon Biomass and Bioenergy 60, 18-31.
  8. Singh BP, Cowie A 2014 Long-term influence of biochar on native organic carbon mineralisation in a low-carbon clayey soil Scientific Reports 4 Article number: 3687 doi:10.1038/srep03687
  9. Schwenke G, Mcleod M, Murphy S, Harden S, Cowie A, 2013 The potential for sown tropical perennial grass pastures to improve soil organic carbon in the North-West Slopes and Plains of New South Wales Soil Research 51 (8), 726-737
  10. Cowie A, Lonergan V, Rabbi SMF, Fornasier F, Macdonald C, Harden S, Kawasaki A, Singh B 2013 The impact of carbon farming practices on soil carbon in northern NSW. Soil Research 51 (8), 707-718
  11. Mcleod M, Schwenke G, Cowie A, Harden S 2013 Soil carbon is only higher in the surface soil under minimum tillage in Vertosols and Chromosols of NSW North-West Slopes and Plains, Australia. Soil Research Soil Research 51 (8), 680-694
  12. Davis, S,  Robert M. Boddey, Bruno J. R. Alves, Annette L. Cowie, Brendan H. George, Stephen M. Ogle, Pete Smith, Meine van Noordwijk, Mark T. van Wijk. (2013) Management swing potential for bioenergy crops. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 5: 623-638
  13. Lauder AR, IG Enting, JO Carter, N Clisby, AL Cowie, BK Henry, MR Raupach 2013 Offsetting methane emissions—An alternative to emission equivalence metrics. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 12, 419-429 [2]
  14. van Zwieten L, Kimber SWL, Morris SG, Singh BP, Grace PR, Rust J, Downie AE, Cowie AL. 2013  Pyrolysing poultry litter reduces N2O and CO2 fluxes. Science of the Total Environment 465, 279-287
  15. Berndes G, Serina Ahlgren, Pal Borjesson, Annette Cowie (2012) Bioenergy and land use change—state of the art. WIREs Energy Environ 2012. doi: 10.1002/wene.41
  16. Brandão M, Levasseur A, Kirschbaum MUF, Weidema BP,  Cowie AL,  Jørgensen SV,  Hauschild MZ, Pennington DW & Chomkhamsri K 2012 Key issues and options in accounting for carbon sequestration and temporary storage in life cycle assessment and carbon footprinting. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:230-240.
  17. Bright RM, Cherubini F, Astrup R, Bird N, Cowie AL, Ducey MJ, Marland G, Pingoud K, Savolainen I and Strømman AH (2012). A comment to "Large-scale bioenergy from additional harvest of forest biomass is neither sustainable nor greenhouse gas neutral": Important insights beyond greenhouse gas accounting. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 4, 617-619.
  18. Cowie, AL, Downie AE, George BH, Singh BP, Van Zwieten L, O'Connell  D 2012 Is sustainability certification for biochar the answer to environmental risks?
    Pesquisa Agropecuária Brasileira 47 (5), 637-648
  19. Cowie A, Eckard R  and Eady S 2012 Greenhouse gas accounting for inventory, emissions trading and life cycle assessment in the land-based sector: a review. Crop & Pasture Science, 63, 284–296.
  20. Downie A, Munroe P, Cowie A, Van Zwieten L , Lau D (2012) Biochar as a Geo-engineering Climate Solution: Hazard Identification and Risk Management. Critical Reviews of Environmental Science and Technology  42:225-250
  21. Singh BP, Cowie AL, Smernik RJ 2012 Biochar Carbon Stability in a Clayey Soil As a Function of Feedstock and Pyrolysis Temperature. Environmental Science and Technology 46(21):11770-8
  22. Smith P,  Christian A. Davies, Stephen Ogle,  Giuliana Zanchi,  Jessica Bellarby,  Neil Bird,  Robert M. Boddey, Niall P. McNamara,  David Powlson, Annette Cowie,  Meine van Noordwijk, Sarah C. Davis,  Daniel DE B. Richter, Len Kryzanowski,  Mark T. van Wijk, Judith Stuart,  Akira Kirton,  Duncan Eggar,  Geraldine Newton-Cross, Tapan K. Adhya,  Ademola K. Braimoh  (2012) Towards an integrated global framework to assess the impacts of land use and management change on soil carbon: current capability and future vision. Global Change Biology Volume 18, Issue 7, pages 2089–2101, July 2012
  23. Ximenes, F.A.; George, B.H.; Cowie, A.; Williams, J.; Kelly, G. Greenhouse Gas Balance of Native Forests in New South Wales, Australia. Forests 2012, 3, 653-683.
  24. Cowie A, Penman T, Gorissen L, Winslow  M, Lehmann J, Tyrrell T, Twomlow S, Wilkes A, Lal R, Jones J, Paulsch A, Kellner K, Akhtar-Schuster M (2011) Towards sustainable land management in the drylands: Scientific connections in monitoring and assessing dryland degradation, climate change and biodiversity. Land Degradation and Development 22:248–260
  25. Joseph SD, Camps-Arbestain M, LinY, Munroe P,  Chia CH, Hook J, van Zwieten L,  Kimber S,  Cowie A, Singh BP,  Lehmann J, Foidl N, Smernik RJ, Amonette JE (2010) An investigation into the reactions of biochar in soil.  Australian Journal of Soil Research 48:501-515 [77]
  26. McPhee MJ, Edwards C, Meckiff J, Ballie N, Schneider D, Arnott P, Cowie A, Savage D, Lamb D, Guppy C, McCorkell B, Hegarty R. 2010 Estimating on-farm methane emissions for sheep production on the Northern Tablelands: establishment of demonstration site.  Aust Farm Business management J 7: 85-94.
  27. Pingoud, Kim, Annette Cowie, Neil Bird, Leif Gustavsson, Sebastian Rüter, Roger Sathre, Sampo Soimakallio, Andreas Türk, Susanne Woess-Gallasch (2010) Bioenergy: Counting on Incentives. Science Vol 327 1199-1200
  28. Singh BP, Hatton BJ, Singh B, Cowie AL, Kathuria A (2010) Influence of biochars on nitrous oxide emission and nitrogen leaching from two contrasting soils. Journal of Environmental Quality 39: 1224-1235. (doi:10.2134/jeq2009.0138)
  29. Singh B, Singh B-P, Cowie AL (2010) Characterisation and evaluation of biochars for their application as a soil amendment.  Australian Journal of Soil Research 48: 516-525
  30. Van Zwieten L, Kimber S, Morris S, Chan YK, Downie A, Rust J, Joseph S, and Cowie A (2010) Effects of biochar from slow pyrolysis of papermill waste on agronomic performance and soil fertility. Plant and Soil 327:235–246
  31. Allen DE, Mendham DS, Bhupinderpal-Singh, Cowie A, Wang W, Dalal RC, Raison RJ (2009) Nitrous oxide and methane emissions from soil are reduced following afforestation of pasture lands in three contrasting climatic zones. Australian Journal of Soil Research 47, 443-458.
  32. Cherubini F, Bird ND, Cowie A, Jungmeier G, Schlamadinger B, Woess-Gallasch S (2009) Energy- and greenhouse gas-based LCA of biofuel and bioenergy systems: Key issues, ranges and recommendations. Resources Conservation & Recycling. 53(8):434-447
  33. Guo L,  Cowie A, Montagu KD, Gifford G (2008) Carbon and nitrogen stocks in a native pasture and an adjacent 16 year old Pinus radiata D. Don. plantation in Australia. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 124, 205-218
  34. Ximenes FA, WD Gardner, AL Cowie (2008) The decomposition of wood products in landfills in Sydney, Australia. Waste management 28:2344-2354
  35. Forrester, DI, J. Bauhus, AL Cowie, PA Mitchell and J. Brockwell (2007). Productivity of three young mixed-species plantations containing N2 -fixing Acacia and non-N2-fixing Eucalyptus and Pinus trees in south-eastern Australia. For. Sci. 53(3) 426-434.
  36. Forrester, DI, M Schortemeyer, WD Stock, J Bauhus, PK Khanna and AL Cowie (2007). Assessing nitrogen fixation in mixed- and single-species plantations of Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia mearnsii. Tree Physiology 27, 1319–1328
  37. Cowie AL and Gardner, WD (2007) Competition for the biomass resource: Greenhouse impacts and implications for renewable energy incentive schemes. Biomass and Bioenergy 31, 601–607
  38. Cowie, Annette L. Miko U.F. Kirschbaum and Murray Ward 2007 Options for including all lands in a future greenhouse gas accounting framework. Environmental Science and Policy.10, 306-321
  39. Cowie, AL  Schneider UA and Montanarella L 2007 Potential synergies between existing multilateral environmental agreements in the implementation of land use, land-use change and forestry activities. Environmental Science and Policy 10, 335-352.
  40. Forrester, DI, J. Bauhus, AL Cowie, PA Mitchell and J. Brockwell (2007). Productivity of three young mixed-species plantations containing N2 -fixing Acacia and non-N2-fixing Eucalyptus and Pinus trees in south-eastern Australia. For. Sci. 53(3) 426-434.
  41. Forrester, DI, M Schortemeyer, WD Stock, J Bauhus, PK Khanna and AL Cowie (2007). Assessing nitrogen fixation in mixed- and single-species plantations of Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia mearnsii. Tree Physiology 27, 1319–1328
  42. Cowie AL, Pingoud, K and Schlamadinger, B 2006.  Stock changes or fluxes? Resolving terminological confusion in the debate on land-use change and forestry   Climate Policy 6 (2006) 161–179
  43. Cowie, AL, Pete Smith and Dale Johnson 2006 Does soil carbon loss in biomass production systems negate the greenhouse benefits of bioenergy? Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 11, 979-1002.
  44. Forrester, DI, Bauhus, J, Cowie, AL, 2006. Carbon allocation in a mixed-species plantation of Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia mearnsii. For. Ecol. Manage. 233, 275-284.
  45. Forrester, DI, J Bauhus, AL Cowie and JK Vanclay 2006. Mixed-species plantations of Eucalyptus with nitrogen fixing trees: a review. For. Ecol. Manage., 233, 211-230.
  46. Forrester, DI, Cowie, AL, Bauhus, J, Wood, J, Forrester, RI, 2006. Effects of changing the supply of nitrogen and phosphorus on growth and interactions between Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia mearnsii in a pot trial. Pl. Soil 280, 267-277.
  47. Forrester, DI , Bauhus, J, Cowie, AL, 2005. Nutrient cycling in a mixed-species plantation of Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia mearnsii. Can. J. For. Res. 35, 2942-2950.
  48. Forrester, DI, Bauhus, J, Cowie AL 2005 On the success and failure of mixed-species tree plantations: lessons learned from a model system of Eucalyptus globulus and Acacia mearnsii For Ecol Manage., 209:147-155 [75]
  49. Henry, Beverley, Chris Mitchell, Annette Cowie, Oliver Woldring, John Carter 2005 A regional interpretation of rules and good practice for greenhouse accounting:  Northern Australian savanna systems. Aust. J. Bot. 53:589-605
  50. Montagu KD Duttmer K, Barton CVM Cowie AL 2005 Developing general allometric relationships for regional estimates of carbon sequestration – an example using Eucalyptus pilularis from seven contrasting sites. For Ecol Manage., 204:113-127.
  51. Kirschbaum, M.U.F. and Cowie, A.L. 2004. Giving credit where credit is due. A practical method to distinguish between human and natural factors in carbon accounting. Climatic Change 67: 417 – 436


  • Australian Soil Science Society
  • International Biochar Initiative
  • Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society