Svalbard Global Seed Vault,

Svalbard Global Seed Vault


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure facility. It is situated on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. It is the world's greatest collection of crop diversity. It holds a back-up of the most important food crop seeds in the world.

The seed vault was constructed to protect the world's food supply from accidents caused by humans and nature. It was inaugurated in 2008. This introduction will give more information about why this facility was made and what its role is.

Overview of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) is located 1,000 kilometers away from the North Pole. It's dug 130 meters into the permafrost. This facility was designed to store hundreds of thousands of samples of crops from around the world.

The seed vault opened in February 2008. Its purpose is to act as a backup for collections held at genebanks across the globe. 100 countries have deposited more than one million different varieties of seeds since its opening.

It's 4 times larger than a professional football field. It's positioned 30 meters above sea level, protecting it from any flooding or natural disasters.

Inside are 81 chambers formed by 25 steel arches. They are equipped with security doors, locks, and sensors to monitor temperature and humidity. The temperature is always -18°C (-3°F), providing long-term optimal storage conditions for conserved seeds.

Location and Purpose of the Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank located deep inside a mountain on the remote Norwegian island, Spitsbergen. Established in 2008, it stores samples from the world's crop collections to safeguard against natural or man-made disasters.

The Vault can hold up to four and a half million different seed samples. It's climate-controlled and the seeds are stored at -18ºC (0ºF).

The seeds are placed in airtight aluminum packages, then within three-ply foil packets sealed with nitrogen gas. These packets are 130 meters (426 feet) below the Arctic permafrost.

Once a sample is added, it will remain frozen for hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of years without losing any of its potential viability. This ensures future generations will have access to the same species even if they have disappeared from their traditional habitats.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is situated on Norway's archipelago, Svalbard. It opened in 2008 to keep safe a huge selection of seed types from all over the world. The purpose was to protect them from any disasters and make sure that future generations can access them.

Over 1.5 million packets of seed, representing 4000 species of plants, are carefully stored in the secure vault. Let's discover the vault's history!

Development and Construction of the Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure and safety-proof facility on Spitsbergen Island, Norway. It was formed to protect crop diversity from climate change. The Norwegian government funded it in 2006.

The vault serves as a back-up storage for seeds. It also helps research facilities store their seeds.

It is built in rock 400 feet above sea level, 600 miles away from Norway. Inside the vault, two chambers are kept at negative 18° Celsius (-0.4° Fahrenheit). Samples are stored in vacuum sealed packages, in boxes, in shelves.

Reinforced steel doors and monitoring systems protect against any potential human or natural threats. All these security measures preserve and protect the specimens in this multitool chest.

Significance of the Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure structure located in the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Norway. It is an insurance policy for food crops, preserving duplicates of many of the world's seeds. This helps to replace varieties that have been lost due to disasters or changes in agriculture.

The vault opened in 2008 and is only intended to be accessed when needed. It preserves genetic crop diversity and provides countries with backup supplies of seeds.

It also plays an important role in promoting food security. Access to the genetic resources may ensure seed availability and prevent seed shortages in emergencies. By providing a backup resource for countries, it contributes to global agricultural sustainability.

Structure and Features

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure underground storage facility situated on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. It safeguards the world's crop diversity against any natural or human disasters.

Its features include:

  • Chambers
  • Surveillance systems
  • A concrete entrance tunnel
  • A security room

Let us peek into the structure and features of this vault!

Design and Layout of the Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is part of the international mission to preserve different crop varieties. It lies between Norway and the North Pole. The vault is there to ensure global food security. Experts crafted it with modern technology. It safeguards our planet's shared species of plants.

The design of the vault maximizes protection from ice, flooding, cold, seismic activity, and more. It's 130 meters deep in an arctic mountain. Concrete and steel form it with aluminum walls to prevent heat loss. Access tunnels keep visitors from sensitive areas.

Watertight doors and drains are installed to protect against floodwater and reduce humidity. Three layers wrap each chamber, two airtight walls and one airlock door. Climate control technology maintains 0% humidity. This ensures the plants remain viable for thousands of years.

Security Measures

Several security measures monitor the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. These include 24-hour surveillance, motion sensors and fire protection systems. Plus, personnel guard the area around the vault.

Various physical and operational elements safeguard seed samples stored in the bank. The vault is made to withstand extreme events like flooding, avalanches and earthquakes. A reinforced concrete entrance tunnel and lock gates embedded in bedrock add to the safety of staff working inside.

A monitoring system tracks temperature and humidity in real time. Also, a fire protection system with extinguishers is at each stop along the route to the warm storage areas. Finally, access is strictly watched for visitor safety.

Seed Deposits

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a repository located close to the Arctic Circle. It holds millions of seeds from around the world. The purpose is to protect these seeds, in case of a global disaster.

This article will discuss the types of seeds stored and how they are kept safe and secure.

Types of Seeds Deposited

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a safety net for future generations. It is located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago. It contains over 930,000 samples of plant species from around the world.

Different types of seeds are stored in the vault. These include:

  • Traditional and ancient cereals such as wheat and rye.
  • Legumes like beans and peas.
  • Vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Tree nuts like walnuts and chestnuts.
  • Fruits like apples.
  • Herbs such as basil.
  • Fungi such as mushrooms.
  • Grasses such as maize.
  • Industrial crops such as cotton and flax.
  • Wild relatives of cultivated plants including grains.
  • Rare varieties bred by amateur enthusiasts.

Each seed deposit is sealed with carbon dioxide-vapor packaging that contains 500 seeds each. This is enough to provide 200 years' worth of plant diversity without resealing or additional packaging. The seeds are kept at −18 degrees Celsius (−0.4° Fahrenheit) within multiple layers of containers in a high humidity environment. This ensures their long-term survival against any external factors that may endanger their viability over time.

Number of Seeds Deposited

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault stores the planet's biggest collection of food crop seeds from around the world. So far, almost one million seed samples have been stored in the facility under the ground on Spitsbergen Island, Norway. This amount stands for more than one thousand different species and varieties of food plants, grown in over 160 countries. Each sample holds an average of 500 seeds, so the secure storage facility contains over 500 million single seeds belonging to many agricultural plant species and varieties.

The vault was made with capacity in mind; it can store up to four and a half million seed samples at any time. Every year, 150,000 new seed samples can be deposited as part of the work done by governments, NGOs, universities and research centers from everywhere. Usually, the protocol involves:

  • Depositing a sample or its duplicate.
  • Sending them both to Svalbard for safekeeping.
  • Preserving the other two replicates at the home institution or abroad for research use or further distribution.

This ensures the resilience of stored germplasm via various cycles.

Countries Involved

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure storage site. It is situated on Norway's Spitsbergen island, in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago near Longyearbyen.

The Vault is run by an international consortium of public, private and non-government organisations. These include governments from all over the world, genealogy banks, crop information centers, research organisations and other institutions.

The Global Seed Vault's purpose is to act as a back-up for crop seeds in case of natural or man-made disasters. It was created in 2008 as part of a Global Crop Diversity Trust mission.

The Vault is a valuable asset for conservationists and farmers. It stores rare seed varieties from around the world. 13 governments (Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Finland) have deposited their seeds there.

Criticisms and Issues

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault has been praised for safeguarding plant genetics. It is seen as an essential resource for food security researchers and breeders. However, there are issues.

The vault is located in a region vulnerable to natural disasters. There is doubt about its long-term viability. Plus, there are worries about access to the facility.

Let's look closer at these criticisms:

Environmental Impact

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault holds a lot of seeds from around the globe in its cool, safe underground rooms. Although, it does come with a cost to the environment. It uses loads of energy for cooling and security, plus for transferring seeds from and to Svalbard. Additionally, it has been argued that its use of land and resources affects biodiversity in the area, and other potential facilities such as research or education centers.

The major objections to the Seed Vault are about its large energy intake. However, there are different tactics for seed storage that use renewable energy sources like wind or solar power. They also reduce energy use by taking advantage of existing buildings or having green technology in new ones. Furthermore, there is worry about the environmental effect of shipping thousands of samples to the vault annually by air freight – this can be tackled by motivating more eco-friendly options such as boat or train transport.

Although the environmental impact of constructing and running a seed vault isn't small, some say it's worth it if it guarantees food security – particularly considering climate change's effect on crop yield and availability. In the end, policies should move away from short-term solutions like seed stockpiling towards more comprehensive planning so communities can learn how to optimize their crop yield in an eco-friendly way – reducing the amount of resources needed for seed storage overall.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an ambitious project, with the aim of preserving global agricultural biodiversity. But in recent years, questions have been raised about its accessibility.

In 2017, reports showed that many countries hadn't claimed their seeds for some time. This led some to believe legal issues were preventing small-scale farmers and rural communities from accessing the vault.

Others mentioned difficulties with a complex trust fund system, which has caused some countries not to get enough money, or to experience delays when collecting their seeds.

  • Furthermore, there are worries about discrepancies between what signatories expect and what actually happens. This is due to operational costs, and a lack of communication with the facility's users.
  • Plus, its sensitive nature means researchers have limited access to the stored seed varieties.

So, accessibility issues remain a challenge for this important initiative. Governments must take further steps to make sure small-scale farmers can access and benefit from this resource.


The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an international effort that relies on donations from people and governments. But, recently, worries have grown around the future of these funds. So, some actions were taken.

To raise awareness and receive more donations, international organizations are doing their best. Also, a trust fund was set up to provide ongoing support. Legal advice was taken to form a non-profit entity. Philanthropists studied different funding models for long-term support. Lastly, governments invested in seed storage technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure, long-term storage facility located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. It was established to protect and preserve the world's crop diversity in the face of climate change and other threats.

How does the Seed Vault work?

Organizations from around the world can deposit seeds at the Seed Vault for safekeeping. The seeds are stored in sealed containers in a deep freeze at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius. The facility is designed to last for centuries, even in the event of disasters such as earthquakes or nuclear war.

Who manages the Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

The Seed Vault is managed by the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, with support from the Global Crop Diversity Trust. An advisory council made up of experts from around the world provides guidance on the facility's operations.

What types of crops are stored at the Seed Vault?

The Seed Vault can store a wide range of crops, including staples such as wheat, maize, and rice, as well as lesser-known varieties of fruits, vegetables, and grains. The facility currently holds more than 1 million seed samples from nearly every country in the world.

Can seeds be withdrawn from the Seed Vault?

Organizations that deposited seeds at the Seed Vault can request to withdraw them if needed for research, breeding, or other purposes. However, the seeds remain the property of the depositing organization, and the Seed Vault does not distribute seeds directly to farmers or other users.

Is the Seed Vault open to the public?

While the Seed Vault is not open to the public for tours or visits, the facility can be viewed through a virtual tour available on the Crop Trust's website. Educational materials and resources are also available for teachers, researchers, and others interested in learning more about the Seed Vault and its mission.

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