Gunnar was born in the small town of Rotenburg and der Fulda in Germany. He came to Fiji at the age of 16 and completed his high school and undergraduate education there. After completing his Master’s working on the biogeography, population genetics and conservation of Pacific cycads, Gunnar lectured plant biology at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. During this time he developed a great interest in tropical rain forest and dry forest, which led to him undertaking PhD studies in the biogeography and ecology of rainforests in the South Pacific at the University of Queensland. After completing his studies, Gunnar accepted a temporary lecturer position in rainforest management at Center for Rainforest Studies at the School for Field Studies in the Atherton Tablelands.
This seminar presents my personal efforts and contributions as a scientist and naturalist in the tropical South Pacific, with a focus on Fiji where I spent most of my time. The first part briefly outlines my research and research interests, including work in the fields of the biogeography and evolution of Pacific island floras, rainforest ecology, plant taxonomy and population genetics. During the second part, I outline my perceptions of and small contributions to conservation in the Pacific. I outline why I think conservation efforts are important in the South Pacific and how I tried to contribute to protecting the remaining lowland forests in various Pacific countries with my research. I also discuss some of the difficulties of conservation work in the Pacific and end by summarising why I think it is difficult for outsiders to make meaningful contributions to conservation in the Pacific.