On this date, 15 years ago

Entrance to the Seed Vault during Polar Night, highlighting its illuminated artwork; Photo credit: Subet Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 4.0

Construction on Svalbard Global Seed Vault begins

Far north of Norway, on the remote island of Spitsbergen halfway between the mainland and the North Pole, the date was June 19, 2006. The prime ministers of Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden set the official "first stone" of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The storage, which nowadays has the capacity to preserve 2.25 billion seeds, and has already stored more than 1 million different samples from almost every country in the world.

Global Seed Bank's purpose

The Global Seed Bank was initiated and managed by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (the Crop Trust), the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen), and the Norwegian government. The location of the Vault is specially chosen for its natural conditions for cold storage. It is situated deep within a high mountain on an island covered by permafrost. The engineers and scientists, who conducted the project claim that even in a case of power loss or climate catastrophe the storage will protect the seeds for centuries.

The Global Seed Vault officially opened in 2008. According to the Crop Trust, the ideal goal of the world's biggest seed storage is to ensure crop diversity for future generations and to contribute to the global struggle to end hunger. As global warming is increasing the risk of not only the extinction of species but the chance of humanity becoming overly reliant on the ones that endure, we, more and more, need to think of and provide our planet with the conditions for its natural biodiversity. The Global Seed Vault's purpose is to guarantee "the ultimate insurance policy for the world's food supply, offering options for future generations to overcome the challenges of climate change and population growth. It will secure millions of seeds representing every important crop variety available in the world today. It is the final backup." The Vault also functions as a reserve from which scientists could draw for experiments while trying to develop more resilient sorts and varieties of the most necessary crops for the survival of human beings.

Here you can take a look inside the Vault, which is usually closed for approximately 350 days a year:

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