We offer safe, free and long-term storage of seed duplicates from all genebanks and nations participating in the global community’s joint effort to ensure the world’s future food supply. The facility serves a humanitarian purpose and is part of the international system for conserving plant genetic diversity guided by the UN organisation for Food and Agriculturen (FAO). While there may be a role for the Seed Vault in the event of a global catastrophe, its value is considered to lie much more in providing back-up to individual collections in the event that the original samples, and their duplicates in conventional genebanks, are lost due to natural disasters, human conflict, changing policies, mismanagement, or any other circumstances.
Protecting maximum amount of plants of importance to humanity
Crop diversity is the foundation of our food production. It allows our food crops to adapt to the climate and population changes that are coming. The United Nations predicts the globalpopulation will increase from the 2020 population of 7.8 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050. Changing weather patterns cause changes in growing seasons and the environment, impacting the ability of today’s agricultural crops to thrive or even to survive.
The seeds contain the raw material that scientists and plant breeders might need to improve the yield, resilience or disease resistance of the agricultural varieties that farmers plant. The world’s gene banks are the first line of resistance to the external problems that agriculture faces.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, function as safety depository for orthodox seeds, primarily of domesticated plants and their wild relatives that are important to food and agriculture.
A perfect location
Svalbard is the Norwegian archipelago half way between the Norhern pole and Mainland Norway. This location are in many ways a perfect location for the worlds seed backup. Norway is a quiet and safe corner at the top of the world, and a long distance from the seed vaults housing the original collections, which are mostly located in the Sothern regions. Even though Svalbard is affected by global warming, it is still expected to remain one of world’s coldest places. The seeds are placed in the chambers inside the frozen mountain and artifical cooling plants are keep the temperatures at a constant minus 18C. The permafrost in the mountains surrounding the Seed Vault is certain to keep the seeds cold for a long time, even in the event of no artificial cooling.
In accordance with the most appropriate techniques…
With a view to preparing the Seed Vault for a wetter and warmer climate in the future, Norway has taken precautionary measures and carried out a major upgrade of the facility from 2016 to 2019. The Seed Vault’s entrance tunnel was made waterproof which, together with the installation of a more efficient and environmentally friendly cooling system, has made the Seed Vault well prepared in the face of future climate change. We will continue to monitor the Seed Vault and follow the developments in the climatic and natural conditions on Svalbard. It is good to know that Norway remains prepared to take any steps necessary to secure the seeds, even in the face of new situations in the future.