COWIE, Annette

Annette Cowie

Technical Specialist climate policy (Principal research scientist)
Climate Research and Development

Research interests

  • Sustainable land management - indicators, assessment, certification and policy development
  • Assessing and enhancing resilience of agro-ecosystems
  • Carbon dynamics in agriculture and forestry
  • GHG accounting for inventory and emissions trading
  • Life cycle assessment, especially to assess the carbon footprint of products, and climate change mitigation value of reforestation, bioenergy and biochar systems


Annette Cowie has a background in soil science and plant nutrition, with particular interest in sustainable resource management. Annette contributes to development of climate change policy and GHG mitigation in the agriculture sector, including GHG accounting for emissions trading at state, national and international levels. Annette was a lead author in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land, and is a lead author in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report. Since 2000 Annette has been a member of the International Energy Agency Bioenergy research network, and led the group “Climate Change Effects of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems” in the period 2013-2018. She is currently co-leader in the IEA Bioenergy group “Climate and Sustainability Effects of Bioenergy within the broader Bioeconomy”. Annette led the New Forests research program in NSW DPI (2001-2009), researching environmental services from planted forests, and the Applications and Outreach program in the CRC Greenhouse Accounting 2002-2004. Annette was the Director of Rural Climate Solutions, an alliance between NSW DPI and the University of New England, 2009- 2014. Annette was a member of the interim Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee, assessing methodologies for the Carbon Farming Initiative 2010-2012, during the establishment of the Carbon Farming Initiative. Annette was the Land Degradation advisor on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility (2012-2018), and a member of the Science Policy Interface of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2014-2019)


  • Ph.D., University of New England, 1994
  • Master of Agricultural Science, University of Queensland 1988
  • Bachelor of Rural Science (Hons I), University of New England 1983

Current projects

  • Leader Emissions Reduction Pathways for NSW Primary Industries, a component of the Primary Industries Climate Change Research Strategy
  • Co-Leader IEA Bioenergy Task 45 Climate and Sustainability Effects of Bioenergy within the broader Bioeconomy, developing methods to assess and support sustainability of bioenergy systems
  • Lead author IPCC Sixth Assessment Report Working Group III Mitigation of Climate Change
  • Committee member: ISO standards for Climate Change Risk Assessment, Radiative Forcing Management, Carbon neutrality

Recent publications

  1. Simmons, A.T., Cowie, A. and Brock, P.M., 2020. Climate change mitigation for Australian wheat production. Science of The Total Environment, p.138260.
  2. Charles, G.W., Sindel, B.M., Cowie, A.L. and Knox, O.G., 2019. The value of using mimic weeds in competition experiments in irrigated cotton. Weed Technology, 33(4), pp.601-609.
  3. Fang, Y., Singh, B.P., Cowie, A., Wang, W., Arachchi, M.H., Wang, H. and Tavakkoli, E., 2019. Balancing nutrient stoichiometry facilitates the fate of wheat residue carbon in physically defined soil organic matter fractions. Geoderma, 354, p.113883.
  4. Smith, P., Calvin, K., Nkem, J., Campbell, D., Cherubini, F., Grassi, G., Korotkov, V., Le Hoang, A., Lwasa, S., McElwee, P. and Nkonya, E., 2020. Which practices co‐deliver food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and combat land degradation and desertification?. Global change biology, 26(3), pp.1532-1575.
  5. Baumber, A., Metternicht, G., Cross, R., Ruoso, L.E., Cowie, A.L. and Waters, C., 2019. Promoting co-benefits of carbon farming in Oceania: Applying and adapting approaches and metrics from existing market-based schemes. Ecosystem Services, 39, p.100982.
  6. Cowie, A.L., Waters, C.M., Garland, F., Orgill, S.E., Baumber, A., Cross, R., O’Connell, D. and Metternicht, G., 2019. Assessing resilience to underpin implementation of Land Degradation Neutrality: A case study in the rangelands of western New South Wales, Australia. Environmental Science & Policy, 100, pp.37-46.
  7. Sarker, J.R., Singh, B.P., Fang, Y., Cowie, A.L., Dougherty, W.J., Collins, D., Dalal, R.C. and Singh, B.K., 2019. Tillage history and crop residue input enhanced native carbon mineralisation and nutrient supply in contrasting soils under long-term farming systems. Soil and Tillage Research, 193, pp.71-84.
  8. Simmons, A.T., Murray, A., Brock, P.M., Grant, T., Cowie, A.L., Eady, S. and Sharma, B., 2019. Life cycle inventories for the Australian grains sector. Crop and Pasture Science, 70(7), pp.575-584.
  9. Brandão, M., Kirschbaum, M.U., Cowie, A.L. and Hjuler, S.V., 2019. Quantifying the climate change effects of bioenergy systems: Comparison of 15 impact assessment methods. GCB Bioenergy, 11(5), pp.727-743.
  10. Luo, Z., Eady, S., Sharma, B., Grant, T., Li Liu, D., Cowie, A., Farquharson, R., Simmons, A., Crawford, D., Searle, R. and Moore, A., 2019. Mapping future soil carbon change and its uncertainty in croplands using simple surrogates of a complex farming system model. Geoderma, 337, pp.311-321.
  11. Ximenes, F.A., Björdal, C., Kathuria, A., Barlaz, M.A. and Cowie, A.L., 2019. Improving understanding of carbon storage in wood in landfills: Evidence from reactor studies. Waste management, 85, pp.341-350.
  12. Cowie, A.L., Orr, B.J., Sanchez, V.M.C., et al., 2018. Land in balance: The scientific conceptual framework for Land Degradation Neutrality. Environmental Science & Policy, 79, 25-35.
  13. Wang, B., Waters, C., Orgill, S., Gray, J., Cowie, A., Clark, A. and Li Liu, D., 2018. High resolution mapping of soil organic carbon stocks using remote sensing variables in the semi-arid rangelands of eastern Australia. Science of the Total Environment, 630, pp.367-378.
  14. Weng, Z.H., Van Zwieten, L., Singh, B.P., Tavakkoli, E., Kimber, S., Morris, S., Macdonald, L.M. and Cowie, A., 2018. The accumulation of rhizodeposits in organo-mineral fractions promoted biochar-induced negative priming of native soil organic carbon in Ferralsol. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 118, pp.91-96.
  15. Agyarko-Mintah, E., Cowie, A., Van Zwieten, L., Singh, B. P., Smillie, R., Harden, S., and Fornasier, F. (2017). Biochar lowers ammonia emission and improves nitrogen retention in poultry litter composting. Waste Management. 61, 129-137
  16. Fang, Y., Singh, B.P., Matta, P., Cowie, A.L. and Van Zwieten, L., 2017. Temperature sensitivity and priming of organic matter with different stabilities in a Vertisol with aged biochar. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 115, pp.346-356.
  17. Koponen, K., Soimakallio, S., Kline, K.L., Cowie, A. and Brandao, M., 2018. Quantifying the climate effects of bioenergy–Choice of reference system. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 81, pp.2271-2280.
  18. Weng, Z., Van Zwieten, L., Singh, B. P., Tavakkoli, E., Joseph, S., Macdonald, L. M., Rose, T. J., Rose, M. T., Kimber, S. W. L., Morris, S., Cozzolino, D., Araujo, J. R., Archanjo, B. S., and Cowie, A. (2017). Biochar built soil carbon over a decade by stabilizing rhizodeposits. Nature Clim. Change 7, 371-376.
  19. Mohammadi, A., Cowie, A.L., Mai, T.L.A., Brandao, M., de la Rosa, R.A., Kristiansen, P. and Joseph, S., 2017. Climate-change and health effects of using rice husk for biochar-compost: Comparing three pyrolysis systems. Journal of Cleaner Production, 162, pp.260-272.
  20. Smith, P., Davis, S. J., Creutzig, F., Fuss, S., Minx, J., Gabrielle, B., Kato, E., Jackson, R. B., Cowie, A., et al.C. (2016). Biophysical and economic limits to negative CO2 emissions. Nature Clim. Change 6, 42-50.

Professional associations and activities

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

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Bioenergy

Contact details

Location: Livestock Industries Centre, Armidale