Doomsday Seed Vault: 13,000 Years of Agricultural History Resides in Norway

What if I told you there was a vault in Norway and that it houses all the world’s seeds and has an accumulation of 13,000 years of agricultural history? Would you believe me? If you’re reading this you’re already interested and intrigued, and you believe. Just 1,300 kilometers or 810 miles from the North Pole is a facility called Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. Here sits a massive vault preserving a wide variety of duplicated seeds of all crops from around the world nestled in permafrost and thick rock to keep seeds frozen until needed. Why though? This large vault is the preserver of food if there is ever a doomsday and the world hits a global crisis, or, if seeds are requested as back up for parts of the world that experience natural disasters and lose all food supply, or have accidents throughout crop management. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the solution for life after death.

The vault came to fruition in 2008 to ensure if the world were to ever go through a real doomsday, there would be a backup of seeds to help the world start over. Since the invention of the vault, 1 million unique seeds have been placed from all agricultural parts of the world: Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico and Syria, to name a few, and is the most diverse seed vault in the world. To ensure the seeds stay intact and do not become crops themselves, the vault is designed to be set at a temperature of −18 degrees celcius/−0.4 degrees farenheit, and are stored and sealed in custom-made three-ply foil packages. The low temperature and moisture helps preserve the seeds and keeps them in its original form for a longer time. Svalbard was chosen for several reasons: permafrost, which makes for the perfect location to store goods underground, surrounding sandstone creating a stable building in low radiation, and overall the location is convenient for daily flights making their rounds, and reliable sources of energy from local coal suppliers. Also, the vault itself is 120 meters (393.7 feet) into the rock which results in a naturally frozen vault year round, so even if the cooling system fails, the surrounding frost and depth keep the seeds stabilized.

The idea to travel and tour the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is almost like imagining visiting the moon. Yes, there have been successful trips, but it’s a rarity; however, (yes, there is a however) the Svalbard Science Destination offers guided tours to visitors who wish to see the vault from the outside. So, although the idea is to see the inside and get a glimpse of 13,000 years of agricultural history and beautiful organization, for now, the outside will do. Pack your parkas, we’re headed to Norway!

Svalbard Global Seed Vault, photo by Crop Trust.

Do you wish you had your own seed vault at home, should a natural disaster strike? Check out this collection of heirloom vegetable seeds from Eden Brothers.

Related Posts