Canadian Seed Vault

Canadian Seed Vault


The Canadian Seed Vault is located in the northern Arctic. It's a safe facility that stores, swaps and researches plant genetic material. The Government of Canada sponsors it and Seeds of Diversity Canada runs it. They are a non-profit organization that works to protect and promote the use of traditional farming practices.

In this article, we will tell you about the Canadian Seed Vault. What it does and how it helps preserve agricultural heritage around the world.

Definition of a seed vault

A seed vault is a secure facility that preserves a variety of plant seeds. Natural, selective breeding, and genetically modified seeds are stored here. They can be used for growing new crops, restoring existing ones, or research by universities and botanists.

The largest seed vault is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. It can store up to 4.5 million varieties of seeds from all over the world. It serves as a safe place should it be needed in the future.

Other seed vaults include Kew Gardens in England and Biosave Canada’s Northern Seed Bank at Lakehead University in Canada. They all strive to save genetic diversity among crops in case of catastrophes.

Overview of the Canadian Seed Vault

The Canadian Seed Vault is a public storage facility in Morrison Island, Ontario. It consists of two shells filled with concrete walls and airtight doors. Steel I-beams and high-density refrigerants are added for reinforcement. Monitors record conditions in the vault 24/7.

The vault holds over 250 varieties from 20 regions, including cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. Medicinal plants like Tulsi are also stocked. All are from trusted suppliers to ensure safety for future generations.

The Canadian Seed Vault safeguards against genetic erosion. They identify new sources of genetic material from domestic and international crops. They transfer them into secure storage facilities like Morrison Island for later use. Cryopreservation and traditional seed banking methods are used to preserve genes without compromising seed viability. They store away even very small or delicate samples safely in the airtight environment until needed for research or natural recovery operations.


The Canadian Seed Vault is a project to save the variety of plant species and guard them from disasters. The concept started in 2006. It is located in the remote town of Svalbard, Norway. The vault opened in 2008 and has over 500,000 species of plants, some of which are extinct in the wild.

We will look at the history of this unique project here.

Origins of the Canadian Seed Vault

The “World's Largest and Most Secure Botanical Collection“, known as the Canadian Seed Vault, is situated south of Ottawa. It stands on the north bank of the Ottawa River, in a human-built boreal forest. This is a crucial and historic place for both Canada and the world.

Its purpose is to protect rare, unique and endangered plants from Canada and around the globe. This is based on its principle of maintaining agricultural food sources for future generations.

The Canadian Seed Vault was made in 2004 by Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada (AAFC). This is part of their mission to safeguard food. They chose this site in 2003, as it met all their criteria. Benefits included thick rock walls with over 150 feet of glacial deposits, secure fencing and 24 hour surveillance by security guards. It was constructed in 2009 for 40 million dollars.

The vault has expanded drastically. Over 15 million varieties of seeds are stored there – containing 4000 species. These include grains, vegetables, fruits, herbs and rare varieties. 1100 more are added annually for United Nations programs to maintain biodiversity globally. The vault is also very important for bringing back extinct plant species. Frozen tissue cultures inside the vault can be regrown when necessary.

Expansion of the Canadian Seed Vault

The Canadian Seed Vault, based in Ottawa, Ontario, was set up in 2001 as a long-term store for seeds. Its goal is to protect and conserve important food crop varieties from around the globe, preserving genetic diversity for future generations.

Its collection has increased over the years, from 600 accessions to over 12,000 accessions, from 66 countries. These accessions comprise of wild species, as well as crop varieties tailored to particular climate zones and cultural preferences.

The seed vault holds duplicates of seed collections from national/regional plant gene banks. It is guarded 24/7 by a secure facility and climate control systems. The Vault stores common crops like wheat, corn and rice, as well as unique crops that are locally important but not globally known. Examples include Chinese millet, Turkish hazelnut and Indian lentil varieties.

Seed conservation is necessary to ensure global food security. This is especially true now, with changing environmental conditions, global warming and human-caused climate change making our agricultural habitats increasingly vulnerable.


The Canadian Seed Vault is an ultra-secure facility in the Arctic permafrost. It stores millions of seeds from all over the world. The vault is intended to safeguard crop diversity and provide an insurance policy for our future food sources.

Features of the seed vault include precise temperature and humidity control, a safe location, and an LED lighting system. Let's explore what these features can do for us:

Location of the Canadian Seed Vault

The Canadian Seed Vault is located in a permafrost zone in Svalbard, Norway. It was established in 2017. The site was chosen due to its protection and remote location, which reduces the risk of contamination.

The vault has state-of-the-art technology which can survive extreme temperatures. It stores seed varieties from countries across the world in airtight, food-grade plastic containers. A computerized tracking system monitors all samples to ensure their safety and preservation.

The Government of Canada manages the Vault. It is supported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR), and other international partners.

The ultimate goal of the Vault is to create a seed library. It will act as a safeguard against global crop losses, improve local production systems, increase species diversity among plants, maintain genetic resources for future development, and provide diverse access to food products globally.

Security of the Canadian Seed Vault

The Canadian Seed Vault is designed to shield the world's biggest seed collection from all dangers. It is situated in Canada's far-off mountains and is one of today's most secure cold storage facilities. The vault was designed to last over a thousand years. It has four levels of defense against theft or destruction.

  • Firstly, the area is guarded by triple-redundant walls and two fences that are watched 24/7.
  • Inside, biometric barriers, motion sensors, and infrared security cameras scan every inch of the territory.
  • Climate control systems keep the temperature and humidity conditions inside optimal for seed storage.
  • Each floor has its own fire suppression systems and backup generators.
  • Plus, robust power protection tech safeguards against power outages or emergencies like fire or flooding.
  • All these features are updated regularly to guarantee maximum security for this seed repository.

Types of Seeds Stored

The Canadian Seed Vault is a secure storage facility located in Ottawa, Canada. It was built in 2017 to help ensure plant and food security. It stores over 24,000 varieties of seeds from around the world. Public and private seedbanks contribute to the vault.

Grains such as wheat, oats and barley are some of the seeds stored. Legumes like peas, beans and lentils, vegetables like corn, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes, tubers such as sweet potatoes, yams and cassava, herbs like cilantro, parsley and chives, fruits like peas, apples, pears and grapes, nuts like walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, oilseed crops such as canola oil, and forage crops for livestock such as clover and fescue grass are all included.

The vault also stores rare species from other plants. This ensures they don't become extinct or lost due to natural disasters or climate change. It also helps keep our global food systems robust with access to a variety of healthy foods over time.


The Canadian Seed Vault is located in the Arctic. It's safe and secure, protecting seed varieties from disasters – both natural and man-made. Why have it? What are the benefits? Let's take a look!

Conservation of Plant Diversity

The Canadian Seed Vault (CSV) is a secure facility that preserves seed samples from around the world. Its mission is to protect species diversity by holding backup copies of seeds already stored in other genebanks. It acts as an insurance policy, safeguarding valuable crop diversity from threats such as war, natural disasters and other events. CSV also accepts unique varieties from farmers, indigenous communities and researchers.

CSV has several conservation goals:

  • It is a seed library for national and international agriculture research organizations, providing open access for all researchers.
  • It functions as an insurance policy, providing genetic back-ups for collections held in genebanks at risk.
  • It preserves essential genetic traits, helping maintain food security.
  • It works with global landrace custodians and breeders to develop new crop varieties.
  • It promotes global collaboration in plant sciences through outreach efforts.

Food Security

The Canadian Seed Vault was created to store and protect the variety of Canada’s crops. Having diversity is important for food security. It can help with climate changes, pests, and diseases. It makes it easier to share quality seed varieties and disease-resistant/tolerant crop types. It also uses tracking and authentication methods to document and closely monitor all seed movement. This helps with transparency and provides opportunities for many countries.

Preservation of Genetic Resources

The Canadian Seed Vault is situated in Fort Reliance, along the shores of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. It forms a part of the global plan to keep our precious genetic resources safe for future generations.

The Vault is intended to store germplasm – the genetic material of plants. This helps to protect crop diversity and make sure that farmers, scientists, breeders and other researchers have access to a variety of plant varieties. It can also provide an endless supply of emergency materials during natural disasters or political unrest.

Preserving diversity guarantees our food supply will stay healthy and prosperous in the future. It also shields us from potential threats such as climate change or disease. The seeds stored in the Canadian Seed Vault are tested regularly and must meet international criteria regarding their genetic relevance, uniformity and health before being accepted.

These seeds are used by researchers with permission from government partners around the world. This means the precious commodities are kept secure and offered up to essential scientific research and agriculture.


The Canadian Seed Vault is an integral part of our global food security. It archives seed varieties and makes them available in times of agricultural crises – a true display of research, tech, and international co-operation in the fight to end hunger and malnutrition.

Summary of the Canadian Seed Vault

The Canadian Seed Vault is situated at the Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It is a safe-house for the world's crop seeds, protecting them from any disaster. With over 35,000 varieties from over 140 countries, it helps preserve genetic diversity, safeguarding against global famine in case of a nuclear war or asteroid strike.

The vault is made of steel-reinforced concrete walls and blast-proof doors, able to remain standing even when other structures have been destroyed. It has 10 sealed chambers, each built to resist toppling structures. Temperature inside remains between -18 and -3 °C, preserving the seed samples for up to hundreds of years.

The samples stored in the vault have to meet certain requirements like being depository eligible, certified clean by an accredited seed inspection agency. There are two surveillance cameras in the chambers to monitor seed filling activity.

The Canadian Seed Vault is an initiative to ensure food sources and crop diversity worldwide. It provides a secure back-up storage solution for governments and universities who want to save their crop's seeds for future use. With this project, we strive to create a better future, where all nations have access to food security in the event of any global crisis or disaster.

Future of the Canadian Seed Vault

The future for the Canadian Seed Vault looks positive. For the past decade it has been a successful store for seeds long-term. As seed numbers reduce, and new plant types come about due to climate change, the Vault is even more important for keeping seed diversity.

Not only is it a place to store seeds, but it's also a great source of agricultural ideas and research. Projects like ReGallyBreed, which works to protect wild crops and improve food security, are carried out here. Also, more public/private partnerships and international agreements on seed sharing have been made recently to help reach these goals.

The Canadian Seed Vault is a great effort to save our earth. To keep this going, we need more conservation efforts, research into crop growth, partnerships between scientific areas, and international agreements on seed sharing. This way we can ensure the planet's biodiversity will be safe for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Purpose of the Canadian Seed Vault?

The Canadian Seed Vault was created to provide a secure location to store valuable seeds for future generations. It is designed to be a backup for existing seed banks across the world and protect against the loss of genetic diversity.

Who Owns the Canadian Seed Vault?

The Canadian Seed Vault is owned and operated by the SeedChange organization, formerly known as USC Canada. SeedChange is a non-profit organization that works to protect biodiversity and sustainable agriculture around the world.

Where is the Canadian Seed Vault Located?

The Canadian Seed Vault is located in the town of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. It is housed in a former limestone quarry that provides a stable, secure environment for seed storage.

What Kinds of Seeds are Stored in the Canadian Seed Vault?

The Canadian Seed Vault stores a wide variety of seeds, including those from fruits, vegetables, grains, and trees. These seeds come from both domestic and international sources and represent a wide range of genetic diversity.

How is the Canadian Seed Vault Protected?

The Canadian Seed Vault is protected by multiple layers of security, including 24/7 monitoring, climate-controlled storage, and a backup generator in case of power outages. The location is also kept confidential to protect against potential threats.

Can Individuals Request Seeds from the Canadian Seed Vault?

While the Canadian Seed Vault is primarily used by researchers and agricultural organizations, individuals can request small quantities of seeds for personal use. However, requests must be made in advance and are subject to approval.

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