The Arctic Seed Vault, located in the Norwegian Arctic, is an internationally funded seed library. It is designed to protect plant varieties against climate change and other global catastrophes. Opened in 2016, it holds seeds from over 960,000 species from all around the world.
Recently, two new deposits were added to the collection. They contain unique rice varieties that are not widely available. The total weight of these deposits is 5kg, with ~2 million individual grain specimens. This brings the total number of deposited species to 962 thousand.
This provides a greater diversity for potential future crop production. By storing the rare species underground, it ensures they can be used in future industrial applications. It also makes them readily available should catastrophe strike again.
Background of Arctic Seed Vault
The Arctic Seed Vault, based in Svalbard's Norwegian archipelago, is a facility for global seed storage. Established in 2008, it preserves the diversity of a variety of seeds. This article will discuss the background and purpose of the Seed Vault.
It is designed to protect the world's crop diversity from potential disasters, ranging from wars to natural disasters. Duplicate seed collections from genebanks across the globe are stored and safeguarded within the Vault.
The Arctic Seed Vault is located on a remote island called Spitsbergen. It's 810 miles from the North Pole and 810 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
The vault is far below ground level. Its special geographical features, like the thick layer of permafrost, provide natural insulation and an impermeable barrier to water. Also, being surrounded by sea ice, it's only accessible by boat or plane.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated it as a Global Seed Vault. This allows farmers from around the world, especially in developing countries, to store and protect their samples in a ‘safety deposit box' for food biodiversity.
In February 2017, Food Security Nepal deposited 74 indigenous crop varieties from Nepal into the vault.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway has been protecting the world's crop diversity since 2008. With population growth and climate change, resilient crop varieties are increasingly important.
The Vault is a secure storage facility for vegetable genetic material in case of disasters. It's on Spitsbergen Island in Norway and has more than 700 million seeds representing 7 million varieties.
If a variety becomes extinct, scientists can recover them from the seed banks. They can also plant them back in nature – which has been done successfully with wildflowers, fruit, and vegetables.
Anyone can donate seeds to the project, funded by governments, international organizations, and private donations from individuals who believe in plant conservation. The collections also provide resource security when drought or floods occur.
Deposits to be Received
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, near Longyearbyen, Norway, is ready to accept over 300,000 rare seeds. This is the first time it has had such a large influx, since it was set up in 2008. This is to secure crop diversity and provide protection against losses due to climate change and other global threats.
Rare Crop Species
The Arctic “Doomsday” Seed Vault is located 800 miles from the North Pole. It is in Svalbard, Norway. Deep in a mountain lies a custom-designed facility. This vault is for keeping rare deposits of crop species.
These species must have scientific proof of their benefit to global food security. Over 700,000 samples from 190 countries will be stored. This includes cereals, beans, oilseeds and tubers.
Veggies like lettuce and tomato varieties, not in other seed banks, will be included. Fruits like oranges and mangoes will also be preserved. They are nutritionally valuable.
These crops are frozen and safe from disasters. They are ready to help humanity. Breeders can use them to get new crop varieties for future needs.
Ancient Varieties of Grains
Crops passed down from ancient times have unique genes not found in today's varieties. To keep this precious genetic material safe for future generations, the Arctic Vault is ready to receive deposits of ancient grains. Examples of these grains include:
- Einkorn wheat: over 8,000 years old.
- Emmer wheat: believed to be around 10,000 years old. Still grown in some parts of Europe and South Asia.
- Oat: present since Stone Age sites, 8,000 years ago in Scotland and Finland.
- Barley: domesticated 10,000 years ago. Widely grown today for food and beverages, and animal feed rations.
- Lentil: farmed since neolithic times (around 6500 BC) in Turkey, India and Iran.
- Pea: domesticated nearly 11,000 years ago in Syria. Later introduced into Europe around 4500 BC as a source of protein. Grown worldwide in temperate climates today.
- Lupin: cultivated by Neolithic farmers 7500 years ago. High in protein content, and native to Mediterranean countries including Iran and Spain, as well as South America.
Benefits of the Arctic Seed Vault
The Arctic Seed Vault is a plan to guarantee food safety and a variety of plants, in light of climate change and other modern risks. This secure seed storage spot, located in Svalbard, Norway, is deemed the most significant global back-up of crop diversity.
In this article, we'll investigate some of the major advantages the Arctic Seed Vault gives to the worldwide community:
Conservation of Plant Diversity
The Arctic Seed Vault, formally known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, is an “insurance policy” for global food security. It is located in a mountain on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. The vault safeguards large collections of seeds from around the world and preserves diverse seeds for research.
The seed vault contains a wide range of crop species, including food and non-food crops like ornamental plants. These seeds have a narrow genetic background, adapted to specific climate conditions. Preserving them in the seed vault keeps their original genetic diversity for future generations.
Conservation efforts ensure variety in agricultural crops, offering pest resistance and reducing use of chemicals. Rare breeds can provide medicinal benefits and even contribute to breeding new varieties with better adaptation and higher yields.
Global Food Security
The Arctic's Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure structure built to protect food supplies in the event of global or regional disaster. It stores large amounts of crop varieties from across the world, ensuring sustenance if extreme weather, disease, or other disasters hit.
The Vault is designed to protect genetic resources for future generations. It safeguards against natural calamities like drought, floods, and volcanic eruptions, as well as human-caused disasters like conflict or political instability which limit or destroy access to agricultural information and resources.
Norway’s ambassador to Thailand said: “Agricultural biodiversity contributes significantly towards sustainable rural development and poverty reduction in developing countries.” By securing our food crops, the Seed Vault ensures access to new markets, improved nutrition, consumer health benefits, and healthier soils in the future.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault preserves genebank collections from all over the world. It grants free access to duplicated crop seed samples. This is in case of disasters, natural or man-made.
The process consists of:
- Cleaning; and
- Storing the seed samples.
These are tested with strict quality control measures and frozen at minus 18 degrees Celsius.
This storage facility is the world's first global insurance policy against extinction. It helps to safeguard diversity, essential for food security globally. This invaluable depositing capability is playing a major role in protecting future generations from hunger. It provides rare deposits of seeds and plant materials that are not readily available elsewhere.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Arctic Seed Vault?
The Arctic Seed Vault is a secure storage facility located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen that was built in 2008 to protect and preserve the world's most important seeds in case of a global catastrophe.
2. What types of seeds are stored in the vault?
The vault stores seeds for crops that are important to human survival, such as wheat, rice, and corn, as well as wild relatives of these crops and other important plant species.
3. Why is the Arctic Seed Vault receiving rare deposits?
The Arctic Seed Vault is receiving rare deposits from around the world as a way to protect and preserve rare and endangered plant species that are at risk of being lost forever due to climate change and other threats.
4. How are the seeds protected in the Arctic Seed Vault?
The seeds are stored in a secure, climate-controlled facility that is buried deep inside a mountain. The facility is designed to withstand natural disasters, power outages, and other potential threats.
5. Who is responsible for the Arctic Seed Vault?
The Arctic Seed Vault is managed by the Norwegian government, in partnership with the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.
6. Can anyone access the seeds stored in the Arctic Seed Vault?
No, the seeds stored in the Arctic Seed Vault are only accessible to the countries and organizations that deposited them, for the purpose of crop research, development, and breeding.