CropTrust_vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, or the Doomsday Vault as the media have nicknamed it, was officially opened on February 26, 2008, to serve as the ultimate safety net for one of the world’s most important natural resources.

The world’s seed collections are vulnerable to a wide range of threats – civil strife, war, natural catastrophes, and, more routinely but no less damagingly, poor management, lack of adequate funding, and equipment failures. Unique varieties of our most important crops are lost whenever any such disaster strikes: securing duplicates of all collections in a global facility provides an insurance policy for the world’s food supply.

The Vault is dug into a mountainside near the village of Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Svalbard is a group of islands nearly a thousand kilometres north of mainland Norway. Remote by any standards, Svalbard’s airport is in fact the northernmost point in the world to be serviced by scheduled flights – usually one lands a day. For nearly four months a year the islands are enveloped in total darkness. Permafrost and thick rock ensure that, even without electricity, the samples remain frozen.

Below is a video of  biodiversity warrior Cary Fowler, and an inside tour of the facilities.

Today the Vault holds over 420,000 samples. Information on the seeds held in the Vault, and how deposits can be made, is available at the vault website

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