Svalbard Global Seed Vault

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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault dubbed ‘Doomsday Vault’ is located in the permafrost mountains on the island of Svalbard (located midway between Norway & the North Pole). It opened on 26 February 2008. Its purpose is to safeguard agricultural biodiversity by housing samples of every known crop seed from all over the world. By storing copies of seed samples the genetic diversity of future generations to come is preserved.

The vault is 130 metres above sea level safe guarding it against future rise in the sea level. Even if the entire Antartica melted its high level means it wouldn’t be touched by the rising water. Also because it is tucked away safely inside the mountains it is able to withstand an earthquake should there be one. It has been planned with such great thought and forward planning that it is able to withstand almost any major disaster except a direct nuclear bomb hit.

The seed vault was funded by the Norwegian government and has received seed samples from practically every country. Inside the vault there are three chambers which have the capacity to store a total of 4.5 million seed samples. The seeds are stored in aluminium envelopes that are placed inside sealed boxes and then placed on high shelves within the chambers. Each envelope can hold around 500 seeds. With the many built in precautions it has in place the vault can last up to 10,000 years!

The seeds remain property of the country that sent them and can be withdrawn at any time without reason. Bear in mind that the seeds will only be accessed when the original seed collections have been lost for whatever reason.

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