The Svalbard Global Seed Vault for an Apocalyptic Scenario

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a deposit box storing more than 1,194,944 seed samples on an icy mountain between Norway and the North Pole. The purpose of the Global Seed Vault, aka the “doomsday” vault, is to reserve seeds in case of an apocalyptic event or a global catastrophe.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault especially reserves seeds from dangerous countries like Syria and Pakistan to protect their agricultural treasure. ICARDA, the organization responsible for the gene bank in Aleppo, had to leave the seeds behind when the civil war broke out. So, ICARDA re-established headquarters in Morocco and Lebanon by using the backup seeds in Svalbard. Unfortunately, the gene banks in Afghanistan and Iraq have been destroyed along with the genetic material that could not be backed up. In this case, Svalbard presents a highly safe place as it is far away from terror and war zones.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Derek Waterman

The entrance leads to a tunnel-like room where there are the cooling systems necessary for keeping the temperature consistent. The room goes 430 ft down into the down, leading to a chamber at the end of the corridor. This chamber functions as a layer of security to protect the three vaults containing the seeds. However, only one of these vaults is currently in use. Its door is covered with a thick layer of ice, and seeds are stored in vacuumed packets and test tubes here.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Many of the seeds inside the vault are out-of-date as agricultural practices have dramatically changed over the past 50 years. Nevertheless, the DNA contained in these seeds can be useful for developing new strains. The Global Seed Vault also aims to collect every unique seed from the other 1700 gene banks around the world.

Who owns the Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

The Norwegian government owns the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and manages it in conjunction with the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The seed vault is located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, which is part of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. It was established in 2008 as a secure facility for preserving a wide variety of plant seeds in the event of a global crisis or natural disaster that could threaten the world’s food supply.