Svalbard Global Seed Vault: Norway’s gift to the world

The Norwegian archipelago called Svalbard, known as “the land with the cold shores,” will take your breath away—and not just because of the arctic temperatures. Besides the snow-covered glaciers, the roaming polar bears and Northern lights, Svalbard is the northernmost urban community on the planet. It’s the perfect location for the world’s largest collection of crop diversity. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, built deep inside a mountain, far above sea level, offers natural freezing temperatures year-round due to the permafrost, making it a fail-safe location to store the world’s precious collection of seeds, from more than 930,000 varieties of food crop, for years to come.

Svalbard seed vault

A remote location to ensure our existence

The Global Seed Vault stores the most important seeds in the world. Almost every nation has shipped or sent its unique and country-specific seeds to Norway—for the sole purpose of survival for years to come.

Located on the remote island of Spitsbergen, far up north in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, the Global Seed Vault stores a treasure that, if lost, could mean extinction forever. The world’s most diverse variety of seeds and crops find themselves there, to function as a security blanket for the world’s crop collection.

If you have ever been to Norway and made your way far up north, you likely know about the temperatures that surround this region and part of the world.

Seed vault seeds

Not visible, yet vital

The vault itself is not visible from the outside, and no visitors are allowed inside. This is for a good reason. The vault serves as an insurance for generations to come securing the world’s food supply amidst challenges of climate change and population growth. Nothing spectacular, yet so vital and unique, that it creates an aura fitting for the exclusivity and importance of the vault.

Currently, the vault stores the most diverse collection of food crop seeds in the world and holds more than one million samples, originating from almost every nation on the globe. The vault was built to hold approximately 4.5 million varieties of crops and has capacity for as much as 2.5 billion individual seeds.

Just recently as of 2015, for the first time, the vault was used for the purpose for which it was created. Due to the conflict in Syria, seed samples of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), which is located in Aleppo, were destroyed. The Seed Vault fortunately had about 80% duplicates of the vanished seeds stored in its chambers and was able to recover them.

Svalbard seed vault

Scandinavian design

Did we mention the clear and aesthetic design of the entrance? The only visible part of the vault is its entrance. A true Norwegian masterpiece, in every sense of the word! It includes the artwork “Perpetual Repercussion” by Dyveke Sanne, a Norwegian artist, to increase the vault’s visibility by reflecting incoming light through incorporated mirror glass and prisms. Leave it to the Norwegians to make something functional and beautiful, not unlike our Stressless furniture.

Takk skal du ha, Norway!

Established in 2008, the seed vault was entirely funded by the Norwegian government. So to speak, a Norwegian gift to the world. Takk skal du ha!  Thank you very much!