Norwegian Seed Vault

Norwegian Seed Vault


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is situated on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, near the Arctic Ocean. It's a secure seedbank, set up to save seeds from all over the globe. Its mission is to protect genetic diversity, so that food security is guaranteed, in the event of a global disaster.

In this article, we will explain how the vault works, who finances it, and why it's of such importance:

Overview of the Norwegian Seed Vault

The Norwegian Seed Vault, located in Svalbard, Norway, is a secure storage facility. It was established in 2008 and is 800 miles (1,290 km) inside the Arctic Circle.

The vault is naturally cold enough to preserve thousands of varieties of agricultural crops for hundreds of years. It currently provides a conservation refuge for over 1 million seed samples from almost all countries in the world.

The Seed Vault acts as a safety net for seeds not used for food production. This ensures that if disaster strikes, there will be duplicates in the vault from genebanks around the world ready for use by plant breeders and other researchers.


The ‘Doomsday Vault', more formally known as the Norwegian Seed Vault, is located on the remote Svalbard archipelago. Established in 2008, it provides a secure storage facility. Its purpose? To store duplicates of seed collections and genebanks from around the globe. This is to ensure precious plant species are safeguarded in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

History of the Seed Vault

The Norwegian government, with help from the Global Crop Diversity Trust, constructed the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It's 800 miles away from mainland Norway, in the Arctic conditions of Svalbard.

Work began in 2006 and the Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, officially inaugurated it on February 26th 2008.

The purpose of the vault is to be an ‘Emergency Backup'. It stores seeds from varieties and species from all over the world, to ensure conservation for centuries.

Since its creation, over 983 000 samples from 5 100 genebanks in 200 countries have been stored in there.

The Seed Vault has an airlock entrance system and thick reinforced concrete walls. The inside has special permafrost and three rock tunnels with temperatures of -18°C for secure storage. There are also strategies for continuity planning in case of epidemics or war.

Purpose of the Seed Vault

The Norwegian government created the Svalbard Global Seed Vault near the Arctic Circle in 2008. Its purpose is to store and protect plant genetic material from countries around the world. This backup is in case of a catastrophic event, and also gives farmers access to endangered seeds.

The vault is 800 miles (1,287 km) north of Oslo in permafrost. It can hold up to 4.5 million seed samples, which are broken down into their individual traits or genes. Global genebanks often deposit samples here for ‘doomsday insurance'.

Organizations like Seeds For Life rely on the vault. They enable researchers and conservationists to monitor wild populations, identify genetic features needed for better agriculture, and protect biodiversity before it becomes extinct.


The ‘Doomsday Vault', also known as the Norwegian Seed Vault, rests near a small village, Longyearbyen, Norway. It is tucked away in the Arctic Circle atop a steep mountain. The cold mountain temperature ensures the seeds stored in the vault stay frozen, keeping them safe and secure.

This vault is special as it stores a large variety of crop seeds, which are key for the genetic diversity of food sources.

Where is the Seed Vault located?

The “Doomsday Vault” – the Svalbard Global Seed Vault – is located on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Established in 2008, it was set up by the Norwegian Government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre.

The purpose of this vault is to safeguard duplicate samples of seeds from all around the world. It can store up to 4.5 million varieties of food crops. The Vault is deep in the mountain, with permafrost and thick rock walls helping to secure it.

This is so that researchers have access to the genetic diversity of plants, even in the event of disaster. These plants are needed to create new varieties that can survive droughts, insects, disease and other threats.

Is the Seed Vault secure?

The Norwegian government was cautious when building the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (or “Seed Vault”). The entrance is in the side of a mountain and the whole site is under 40 feet of permafrost. This makes it resistant to warm temperatures which can damage stored seeds.

The Seed Vault has many safety layers. These include movement sensors, cameras, alarms, and a guard 24/7. Only authorized people can access the facility. To make the contents secure, the Seed Vault has administrative procedures like access logs and records control. All these steps guarantee the contents are safe from outside harm.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an underground facility in Norway. Its purpose? To store a huge variety of crop seeds, in case of a global disaster. Access to the Seed Vault is very restricted. It has firewalls and multiple levels of security.

We'll talk about these levels of security. Plus, the process you must go through to gain access:

Who can access the Seed Vault?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is situated on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. It's owned by the Norwegian government and managed by the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

The Vault is designed to be secure and to accommodate large delivery systems. Access is only granted through biometric scans, such as facial and finger recognition.

Individuals must have an approved “user agreement” with Norway. This is to ensure no information from the Vault is used for commercial purposes or against other countries’ laws or regulations. Any gene modifications outside of the guidelines need to be approved by Norway’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

How is the Seed Vault accessed?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is in Svalbard, an archipelago in Norway. It's the biggest and most secure long-term storage for plant diversity.

Access is very restricted. Experts in food production and research organisations need special permission. To get it, they must apply to NORDGEN. This includes contact info and the purpose of their visit. If accepted, they get an invitation letter with details of how to get there.

On arrival at Svalbard, they must:

  • show ID
  • list any equipment they're carrying
  • sign a form
  • go through security with a fingerprint reader.

They can only visit certain parts, with two staff members supervising them at all times. This keeps agreements between depositors and bank holders confidential and stops misuse or changes.


The Norwegian Seed Vault safeguards crop diversity worldwide. It stores seeds, which can be used to replace lost harvests if there has been a natural disaster or political upheaval.

Let's explore the effects of the Seed Vault on nature, farming, and global food security:

What is the impact of the Seed Vault?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also known as the ‘Doomsday Vault', is a secure facility situated deep in an Arctic mountain in Norway. It has been created to protect crop diversity and genetic erosion. It stores millions of seeds from all over the world to maintain active crop variety.

The purpose of the vault is twofold. Firstly, it ensures that humanity can save agriculture-based crops in case of another global crisis. Secondly, it serves as an insurance policy against the extinction of crops due to natural or man-made climatic events which could destroy seed banks and crop resources.

The Seed Vault holds almost 1 million seed samples of over 60000 plant species with the goal of preserving our agricultural heritage for the future. In 2009, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was signed, which means that over 70 countries now use seeds from the Seed Vault due to failed local storage or disasters such as civil war or floods.

The Seed Vault provides a secure place for valuable seed varieties, away from threats of climate change and human conflict. In this way, it offers hope for food security and agricultural production across the globe.

What are the benefits of the Seed Vault?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. It was built in 2008 to act as a failsafe storage facility and preserve hundreds of thousands of crop varieties. It protects them from global emergencies like climate change, war, and natural disasters.

Storing different varietals and conserving the diversity and adaptability can ensure that important food crops remain available in hostile environments.

The vault has several functions:

  • It provides a safeguard against accidental loss or deterioration of other collections with its high security features.
  • It offers assurance to farmers whose economies may be vulnerable to climate change that there will be backup access to seeds.
  • It also preserves crop diversity essential for developing sustainable agriculture for future generations.
  • It additionally provides an added layer of protection for threatened crop varieties, ensuring traditional foods are preserved in their gene pools.
  • Finally, it provides accessibility for long term research into gene pool dynamics between climate change and food crop varietals.


The Norwegian Seed Vault is a safe haven to safeguard crop diversity. It stands as a beacon of optimism amidst global climate change and other risks to farming abundance.

This article examined the mission of the vault, its value, and how it could help sustain crop variety for future generations.

Summary of the Norwegian Seed Vault

The Norwegian Seed Vault stands in the Svalbard archipelago. It was made in 2008 to protect the diversity of crop seeds, and guarantee food production. It stores more than 930,000 varieties of crop seeds. They are kept alive in underground chambers that are protected by permafrost and walls of sandstone. These samples come from numerous gene banks around the world.

The Seed Vault stands as a model of global food security and conservation. It proves that when people collaborate with a unified goal, we can achieve sustainable agriculture and food security for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Norwegian Seed Vault?

The Norwegian Seed Vault, also known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, is a secure facility located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. It serves as a backup storage for crop seeds from all over the world.

2. Who manages the Seed Vault?

The Seed Vault is managed by the Norwegian government in partnership with the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.

3. How does the Seed Vault protect the seeds?

The Seed Vault is built deep inside a mountain and surrounded by permafrost, providing a natural sub-zero temperature that helps to preserve the seeds. The facility is also designed to be highly secure, with a thick blast-proof door and advanced security systems.

4. Who can access the seeds stored in the Seed Vault?

Seeds stored in the Seed Vault are the property of the countries and organizations sending them. The facility serves as a backup storage, meaning that only the original depositors have access to the seeds. However, in the event of a global crisis, the seeds can be accessed and distributed to ensure food security.

5. How many seeds are currently stored in the Seed Vault?

As of 2021, the Seed Vault houses over a million samples of crop seeds, representing thousands of species from around the world.

6. Can individuals or organizations donate seeds to the Seed Vault?

No. The Seed Vault only accepts seed deposits from national and international gene banks and research institutions. However, individuals and organizations can contribute to the Seed Vault's mission by supporting its work through donations.

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