svalbard global seed vault population

Svalbard Global Seed Vault Population


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) is a safe spot, far away. It's storing food crop seeds from all over the globe. The Vault was made to preserve biodiversity and keep germplasm usable for future generations.

The SGSV can fit 4.5 million seed samples. Each sample could create hundreds of thousands of plants!

Overview of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault rests on a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole. It's a sanctuary to defend seeds from threats, like natural disasters, wars, and climate change. The Vault holds nearly a million seed samples from almost every country. It was established in 2008, aiming to preserve crop diversity and food security for generations.

The Vault keeps exclusive varieties of food crops, e.g. wheat, rice, maize, potatoes and more. Each sample contains 500-700 seeds, packaged and sealed by their donor countries. They're stored deep in the mountain, away from fire and floods. Each has data attached, like origin country and genetic material for identification. The Vault serves as a backup for plant breeders if disaster or events reduce crop diversity or wipe out certain varieties.

40% of the seed species stored in Svalbard aren't held anywhere else. This is crucial in case they become scarce or extinct due to disease or climate change. Developing countries storing at Svalbard must continue planting these varieties, to keep them viable outside of storage.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a massive seedbank situated on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. It contains over 1 million crop seeds of various types from across the globe. As of 2021, the Seed Vault has more than 1.5 million varieties, from 5,100 different species. Its population is escalating, and the importance of preserving it is becoming more evident.

In this article, we will explore the population of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and why it is so imperative.

Number of Seeds Stored

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure, underground facility located in the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Norway. It was established to store the world's agricultural and biological diversity. The Norwegian government maintains it. It has state-of-the-art tech for security, safety and sustainability.

As of February 2020, it had 955,320 viable seed samples from 1,787 organizations in 150 countries. 60% were from developing countries. The storage capacity is expected to exceed 4 million varieties of seeds. The target is 10 million varieties eventually stored there.

It's one of the most important facilities for preserving food security, no matter the climate or political developments.

Geographic Distribution of Seeds

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an incredible project that preserves and safeguards the world’s crop diversity. It stores over 1 million distinct varieties of crops and 4.5 million individual seeds, as of 2020.

The vault ensures a wide range of genetic variation is preserved by collecting plant species from areas that have limited access to such resources.

To ensure long-term sustainability, the vault has implemented criteria for assessing germination rates, volatile organic compound composition testing, and frequent back up copies of older varieties. This way, only viable seeds are stored for long-term preservation in the seed vault.

Types of Seeds in the Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank situated on the Norwegian islands of Spitsbergen. It was made to store, protect and keep available crop varieties that are essential for global food security. It holds samples of seeds from thousands of plant species, including crops that are important to smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Storing these vital crops preserves their genetic diversity for future generations and ensures food security in case of major disasters. The vault stores varieties from all over the world. These range from landraces, wild relatives and modern varieties.

  • Landraces are indigenous varieties adapted over many years for local conditions or specific uses. They have a range of genes adapted to different climates and soils. “Heirlooms” is another name for them, as they have been passed down through generations.
  • Wild relatives are plants found in nature that are closely related. They are becoming increasingly important because they have gene combinations that can be used to breed varieties or strains that are drought-/salt-tolerant, have improved nutrition profiles and higher yields.
  • Modern varieties are those developed in the last 40-50 years through traditional plant breeding or genetic modification. These can include hybrids or GMOs.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault holds about 4.5 million seed samples from almost every country in the world. These are stored in containers kept at -18°C in its purpose-built facility, which is carved into the side of a mountain near Longyearbyen, Norway’s administrative centre on Svalbard island. This vault serves as insurance against accidental loss of products stored in other local seed banks due to war, natural disasters or mismanagement. When certain species become extinct in their native habitat, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault may be the only source for them!


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault sits in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. It holds 4.5 million varieties of crop seeds. This massive and secure storage is a safeguard for global food security.

It offers long-term preservation of crop seeds, thus helping to maintain agricultural diversity. Let's explore the ways in which the Svalbard Global Seed Vault preserves crop biodiversity:

Long-Term Storage

Long-term storage is vital for preserving genetic materials. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault stores over 250,000 samples of 4,000 crop varieties. It has a cold storage facility, protecting crops for hundreds or even thousands of years.

The “fail-safe” system guarantees samples remain safe. Seed standards are met to ensure viability. Samples are sealed in packets and boxes. These can withstand extreme temperatures and moisture levels for centuries.

Safety systems monitor 24/7, including sensors, alarms and gauges. This helps safeguard seeds, and detect changes quicker than manual inspections. This prevents threats like rising sea levels or long power outages due to extreme weather.

Efficient storage solutions like Svalbard Global Seed Vault secure our food sources for future generations.

Security Measures

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the world's largest and most secure seed storage facility. It's located on the Svalbardisland of Norway, within the Arctic Circle. It houses 890,000 accessions from 6,000 species of crops from around the world.

The purpose of this facility is to serve as a global repository for duplicates of seed samples. It opened in February 2008 and by October 2009, it stored samples for over 4 million plants.

To protect the seeds, a variety of security measures have been put in place. These include:

  • military personnel guarding the vault 24/7;
  • multiple steel doors;
  • 140 cm thick concrete walls;
  • video surveillance;
  • motion sensors;
  • laser beams that detect unauthorised entry points;
  • air locks;
  • power outages;
  • hardened electrical wires;
  • and drive size exclusion systems.

The Seed Vault is also built high above sea level to act as a defence against floods or sea rise due to global warming. These strong measures guarantee the safety of the seed samples all times, even during war time and natural disasters.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault offers a crucial service to the globe. It secures the genes of crop species to guarantee their future use for food safety and agricultural study. This seed vault has several advantages, both in terms of environmental conservation and global food safety. Let's take a look at all the benefits of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault:

  • Environmental conservation
  • Global food safety

Food Security

Food security is a huge global worry. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault strives to help solve it. It preserves seed diversity on a global level, and provides access to seeds from anywhere if needed.

A major benefit is that it grants plant breeders and scientists access to locally adapted varieties from everywhere. This gives them the ability to create crops that can better tolerate drought and disease. This means more food production, distribution, and availability in areas suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

The Seed Vault also ensures that genetic resources will be conserved regardless of what occurs in any part of the world. It acts as an insurance policy against extinction events such as climate change or political conflicts. The seeds stored in Svalbard are copies from genebanks located around the world. This guards against air pollution catastrophes and other risk factors that endanger biodiversity at the local level.

By securely archiving the world’s crop diversity for the future, even those varieties not popular today have a chance to be useful when future generations face new challenges or opportunities.

Conservation of Biodiversity

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault ensures crop diversity around the world is conserved. It stores seeds from nearly every country and collections from institutions, such as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and national seed banks.

Governments are making sure vital plant resources are preserved, by gathering large deposits of crop varieties in a safe place. This reduces the risk of losing genetic material if one country experiences a natural disaster or conflict.

Preserving crop diversity through the Seed Vault is crucial, due to climate change and other environmental pressures putting species at risk. Future generations will have access to varieties suited to changing conditions, and could even produce new crops with better yield potentials or more nutrition.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a safe place to store millions of crop varieties. It is important for protecting crop diversity. This article discusses why it is valuable to the global community.

Issues like conserving the seed collection and funding the vault have been raised. In conclusion, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a valuable asset. Its population shows its importance.

Summary of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault stores over 1 million seed samples from crops and plants. It is located in the Artic Circle and its goal is to protect diversity in food crop plants. Quality control inspections are done to make sure only viable seeds are allowed in. It helps back up national genebanks for public institutions and private parties. Accessibility is granted based on international agreements.

This seed bank was created to help conserve plant diversity and ensure future generations have access to safe and secure food sources.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population?

A: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault population refers to the collection of seeds from various plant species that are stored in the vault located on the Norwegian island of Svalbard.

Q: Why is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population important?

A: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault population is important because it acts as a backup for seeds from different parts of the world, preserving genetic diversity and ensuring that crops can be produced in the future, despite climate change and other threats.

Q: How many seeds are in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population?

A: As of February 2021, there are more than one million seeds stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population, representing a diverse range of plant species.

Q: Who is responsible for managing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population?

A: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault population is managed by the Norwegian government and maintained by the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.

Q: Who can access the seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population?

A: The seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population are available to plant breeders, researchers, and scientists around the world who need to access genetic material to support their work on developing new crops.

Q: How is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault population protected?

A: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault population is protected by a number of measures, including thick walls of reinforced concrete, steel doors, and a sub-zero temperature inside the vault that prevents the seeds from germinating.

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