The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located in the Norwegian Arctic on the remote island of Spitsbergen. Photo Credit: Shaliz Barzani / Crop Trust

Society Norway24. March 2023

Let’s Take a Virtual Visit to the Doomsday Seed Vault!

As part of its 15th anniversary, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault located in the Norwegian Arctic is offering a virtual tour of the premises where crop biodiversity is protected in a global cooperative and community effort.

“From here in Svalbard, the world looks different. This seed vault represents hope, unity, and security,” explains Stefan Schmitz, executive director of the Crop Trust, a co-manager of the vault. “In a world where the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, natural catastrophes, and conflicts increasingly destabilize our food systems, it has never been more important to prioritize safeguarding these tiny seeds that hold so much potential to adapt our future food to such global threats.”

Located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opens its five metal doors to a handful of people, for new entries of seeds a few times a year since its establishment in 2008. Within the gray wedge-shaped building, 1.2 million seed samples are stored from almost every country in the world. Protected by 120 meters of rock at its deepest point, the vault has floor-to-ceiling shelves where thousands of seed boxes are safely stored at minus 18 degrees Celsius – the international standard for conserving seeds. Each depository country owns its seed stocks, and withdrawals are possible should stockpiles are compromised. For instance, when it was time to restart the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas in Aleppo in 2015 following the Syrian civil war, seeds from the vault came to the rescue. Even virtually, the interior of the vault is an impressive sight to behold.

Smithsonian Magazine

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