Mass Seed Vault

Mass Seed Vault


The ‘Doomsday Vault' – a depositary seed bank – is located deep in a mountain on Svalbard, an island of Norway. It is a unique facility, housing many of the world's important crop varieties. Its purpose is to provide a safety net for global food supply, in case of a catastrophic loss of biodiversity.

This article will offer an overview of the seed vault, its goal and benefits.

Definition of a Seed Vault

The Global Seed Vault is located in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago (Norway). Its purpose is to store and safeguard agricultural crops from around the world. The goal is to provide farmers, seed collectors and practitioners with access to a wide variety of seeds in case of disasters or changing climate conditions.

The design and structure of the Seed Vault is advanced. It is underground and reachable by tunnel, with natural air cooling and layers of permafrost and bedrock to protect it. There are high-tech humidity controls, LED lighting and systems to protect digital records.

Inside the vault are more than 900,000 unique seed samples sent by partner seed banks. These represent many different agricultural crops – such as maize, wheat, barley and beans – that serve as food staples in communities. Additionally, these Genetic Resources can improve farming productivity in tomorrow's markets.

Purpose of a Seed Vault

A seed vault is a repository for storing seeds. It helps protect genetic diversity of food crops – acting as a backup. Seeds are collected and stored in a secure setting. So, they can be used again when needed.

The vault has two main purposes:

  • Firstly, it ensures food security through safeguarding important genetic material.
  • Secondly, it gives access to diversity when creating new crop varieties. Diversity helps farmers fight against pests, diseases, and climate change. It allows them to grow crops with higher yields and more nutrition.

These vaults are key in defending against disasters that could cause the loss of widely grown agricultural crops. Unfortunately, 90% of global crop diversity has already been lost due to farming changes. Therefore, having access to these stores of genetic diversity is crucial for future food security.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank. It's located on Spitsbergen, an island in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. It's only 1,000 kilometres away from the North Pole! Established in 2008, this Vault stores rare and precious seeds. This helps to maintain crop diversity for food security in the future.

The Global Crop Diversity Trust manages the Vault. It collects, stores, and distributes crop seed samples from all around the world.

Origin of the Seed Vault

The Global Crop Diversity Trust wanted to create an “ark” in the Arctic for the world's crop diversity. This resulted in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a project of the Norwegian government and private international donors, which opened in 2008 near Longyearbyen, Norway.

The Seed Vault has two objectives: it acts as an insurance policy against global catastrophes, and provides an extra layer of security for collections worldwide. Its mission is to preserve crop genetic resources from around the world against loss due to natural disasters.

This will help protect food production systems in times of crisis, and benefit agricultural research. It also serves as a secure middle ground between gene banks and national governments. This gives access to seed samples if gene banks experience catastrophic losses due to uncontrollable factors, such as wars or political turmoil.

Development of the Seed Vault

The Global Seed Vault is a Norwegian Government initiative for conservation and food security. It began as a joint project in 2004 between the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, NordGen, and CFA.

In October 2005, the Nordic Council of Ministers provided funds. Construction began on 11th January 2006, with seed conservation work taking place on 24th February of the same year. On 26th February 2007, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg opened the facility.

Norwegian engineers at STAR Arkitekter designed the vault over 14 months. Core Bohms took 8 months to build a reinforced concrete tunnel 80 meters into permafrost. Teflon and 20mm thick steel walls were installed to protect against low temperatures.

By June 2008, NordGen had staff at The Global Seed Vault's operational office in Longyearbyen. They began training genebank curators in cryopreservation methods in November 2007. This training continues today, along with monitoring and maintenance work.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located deep in the permafrost of the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. It is about 1000km from the North Pole. This secure seed storage facility is designed to store and preserve a vast variety of plant seeds from all over the world. It is also a backup plan for an agricultural crisis. The vault contains nearly 1 million seed samples from more than 4,000 types of plants!

In this section, we will learn more about the Seed Vault's location and other details.

Where is the Seed Vault Located?

The “Doomsday Vault”, also known as the Global Seed Vault, is located deep inside a mountain on Spitsbergen Island in Norway. It sits 460 feet in the permafrost, 800 meters above sea level. Built in 2008, it is engineered to survive all disasters, natural and manmade.

Its primary purpose? To protect crop diversity and keep it safe in times of crisis. This is especially important for countries with limited resources. By storing seeds from all over the world in the deep freeze, future generations will have access to food even if disaster strikes.

Presently, over one million seed samples from all countries are stored in the Vault. It has the capacity for 4.5 million samples. This is equivalent to two billion batches of cereal grain seeds! How are they preserved? Sub-zero temperatures, nitrogen gas flush systems, and strict protocols to ensure security and viability.

Benefits of Location

The Mass Seed Vault is located in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. It is built inside a sandstone mountain on an island deep within the Arctic Circle. This remote location provides security from any kind of disaster, either natural or man-made.

The vault has arid surroundings, and its walls are four meters thick. The steel door leading into the vault is secured with biometric locks. Earthquakes won't damage it as it is designed to withstand them.

The vault's location also provides protection from any political or environmental interference. It offers 24/7 climate control and no need for outside energy sources or cooling mechanisms. This ensures that stored genetic diversity remains intact until needed. The vault provides benefits to all of humanity.


Operation Safe Seed Vault is a project like no other. It's managed by the Global Crop Diversity Trust and located in the Arctic Ocean's Svalbard archipelago. This project's mission? To store and conserve crop plants' genetic diversity for future generations.

Let's delve into the Mass Seed Vault's operation:

How Does the Seed Vault Operate?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is based on the frosty Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. It is funded by the Norwegian government, and partnered with the Global Crop Diversity Trust and NordGen.

The vault stores almost 1 million samples, representing 4.5 million crop varieties. These include cereals, legumes and vegetables. It provides a valuable source of genetic material for research institutes and universities. In the event of global catastrophes destroying other seed banks, countries will be able to restore their resources from the vault’s backups.

Humidity sensors and a database system are used to access information about each economic package in the vault. No additional storage temperature maintenance or artificial cooling systems are needed due to its naturally cold location within permafrost. A light ventilation system is used for air circulation, to prevent mold growth.

Security of the Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is made for long-term security of the world's food. Its goal is to save, look after, and share the world's collection of crop diversity. It's built into a mountain on an Arctic group of islands. This means that whatever disaster could happen, the seeds will stay safe.

The entrance has an airlock system and security measures. For example, a fingerprint scanner and anti-theft system. The anti-theft system requires each seed shipment to have an accompanying barcode. Before opening, they tested it to make sure the environment was ok.

The Control Room within the Seed Vault is monitored all the time. This is done by staff and automatic sensors. SMART systems are used to keep track of deposits and withdrawals. This helps with traceability at all times.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located in Norway. It securely stores varieties of crops from various countries. This storehouse can save millions of lives, in case of natural disasters, climate change, or war.

We'll explore the effects of this seed vault on the world.

Benefits of the Seed Vault

The Seed Vault stores crop varieties essential to food security and sustainable agriculture. It secures them for future generations – in case of catastrophes or political turmoil. It also helps with research on plant breeding, disease resistance and crop yield.

The Vault's global reach encourages collaboration with partner governments and institutions. It raises awareness of food security and facilitates communication between countries in times of emergency.

It's a safety-net, too. It holds thousands of unique varieties from around the world. Stored safely, it gives us peace-of-mind that our food supply will last.

Challenges of the Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an effort to protect crops' genetic diversity. With sealed access tunnels and frozen permafrost, it's virtually indestructible. But it has challenges.

  • One is collecting enough seeds to maintain genetic diversity. Farmers breed plants for desired characteristics. But, sometimes useful varieties vanish before entering the vault. Formation collections help by regenerating lost species from cryogenically frozen seeds.
  • A second challenge is storing seeds so they stay viable. Temperature fluctuations, pests and climate change may threaten supplies. In 2017, a heat increase was reported in just three days. Experts are considering ways to safeguard collections.
  • Political stability is also a concern. Civil wars and revolutions can destroy or loot seed vaults. So far, no major damage has been done. Governments should be empowered to protect seed banks from disruption threats, whether internal or external.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Mass Seed Vault?

A Mass Seed Vault, also known as a seed bank, is a facility where seeds are stored in a secure and controlled environment to protect against the loss of biodiversity and conserve plant genetic resources for future generations.

Who operates the Mass Seed Vault?

The Mass Seed Vault is operated by the Norwegian government and is located on the remote island of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean. It is managed by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, with funding support from governments and private organizations around the world.

What types of seeds are stored in the Mass Seed Vault?

The Mass Seed Vault contains a wide variety of plant seeds, including staple crops such as rice, wheat, and maize, as well as rare and endangered species. It currently holds over 1 million seed samples from around the world.

Why is the Mass Seed Vault important?

The Mass Seed Vault is important for preserving the genetic diversity of crops and wild plants, which is vital for food security and adapting to climate change. It also provides a backup for seed collections in case of natural disasters or other emergencies.

Can anyone access the seeds in the Mass Seed Vault?

The seeds in the Mass Seed Vault are stored for the benefit of all humanity and are freely available to researchers, plant breeders, and farmers around the world for non-commercial purposes. However, access is strictly controlled and requires a formal request and approval process.

Is the Mass Seed Vault vulnerable to climate change?

The Mass Seed Vault was designed to withstand a variety of natural and man-made disasters, including earthquakes, floods, and nuclear war. However, it is not immune to the impacts of climate change, such as melting permafrost and rising sea levels, which could potentially threaten the facility in the future.

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