Professor Peter Kanowski

BScForHons(ANU), DPhil(Oxon)
Professor of Forestry, Fenner School of Environment and Society | Master, University House | Deputy Dean, HDR Supervision

Areas of expertise

  • Natural Resource Management 050209
  • Education Policy 160506
  • Forestry Management And Environment 070504
  • Forestry Fire Management 070503
  • Environment Policy 160507
  • Forestry Sciences 0705
  • Environmental Science And Management 0502

Research interests

Peter Kanowski's research addresses three principal themes:

  • forest and environmental governance. This research includes work on forest practices, First Nations Australians and forestry, market-based mechanisms such as forest certification and REDD+, and wood legality verification;
  • planted forest policy, including farm-scale tree growing within the context of the farm enterprise, and societal development and sustainability objectives. This work includes ACIAR-supported research in Lao PDR and Vietnam, with precursors in Australia and globally; and work with The Forest Dialogue's Tree Plantations in the Landscape initiative;
  • urban green infrastructure;
  • education in forestry, environment and society, and sustainability.

I also engage with a wider range of research topics, principally those pursued by the PhD and Masters scholars whom I supervise.

My publications list illustrates aspects of my work in each of these topic areas.


Peter Kanowski is Professor of Forestry in the Fenner School of Environment & Society. He is also Master of University House and Deputy Dean (HDR Supervision).

Peter's academic roles comprise academic and professional leadership; research and teaching focused on forest and environmental policy, and on sustainability; and policy learning and development, and community engagement, associated with forest-related issues. Peter works extensively in each of these arenas with colleagues and partners, representing a diversity of forest- and environment- sector interests, internationally, nationally, and locally. Much of his current research is in conjunction with ACIAR projects. In addition to graduate and undergraduate teaching at ANU, Peter also co-convenes a graduate course in International Forest Governance at the University of Freiburg. 

Peter was a Schlich Medallist at the Australian National University, where he completed an Honours degree in forestry, and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he completed a doctorate in forest genetics. He worked in forest management and research in Australia for 3 years, and lectured at Oxford University’s Forestry Institute for 7 years, before taking up the Chair of Forestry at ANU in 1995. Peter was Head of the ANU Department of Forestry 1996-2001, foundation Head of the School of Resources Environment & Society 2001-2008, and Deputy Director of the Fenner School of Environment & Society 2007-2008. He spent two years as a Deputy Director General at CIFOR, the Center for International Forestry Reseach, 2012-2014, on leave from the ANU. 

Peter has worked actively with The Forests Dialogue since 2006, co-leading a number of its initiatives. He was a member of Australia's State of Environment 2011 Committee; the Council of Australian Governments' National Bushfire Inquiry 2003-4; the Board of the National Arboretum Canberra; and was Education Program Chair of the CRC for Forestry for the life of that CRC. 

Peter received the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Community Outreach 2011, was co-recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Supervision 2016, and received a Chancellor's Award for Service to the University in 2022. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Freiburg in 2019.

Researcher's projects


ACIAR Project SSS/2020/142 (with Hilary Smith and Holly High). Policy impact in Lao PDR: from research to practice.

ACIAR Project FST/2016/151 (with Hilary Smith and others). Advancing enhanced wood manufacturing industries in Laos and Australia.

ACIAR Project FST/2016/144 (with CSIRO, Daju Resosudarmo and many others). Improving community forest management and peatland fire in Indonesia.

The Forests Dialogue - various initiatives.

Recently completed

ACIAR Project ADP/2014/047 (with Rod Keenan and others). Improving policies for forest plantations to balance smallholder, industry and environmental needs in Lao PDR and

ACIAR Project FST/2012/012 (with Barbara Ozarska and others). Enhancing key elements of the value chains for plantation-grown wood in Lao PDR.

ACIAR Project FST/2009/016 - Enhancing the value chain for PNG balsa.

ACIAR Project FST/2004/050 - Value adding to PNG agroforestry systems.

ARC DP120100270 (with Sango Mahanty, Wolfram Dressler, Luca Tacconi, and Phuc To) - The political ecology of forest carbon: mainland Southeast Asia's new commodity frontier?


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Updated:  24 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers