What’s Inside The Svalbard Global Seed Vault?

When it comes to doomsday scenarios, there are two approaches we can take. The first is to try our best to prevent them in the first place.

We do this by attempting to understand the things that we can’t control but could destroy us, and limit the potential and likelihood that we may destroying ourselves. The second is to prepare for what will happen during and after a devastating events, whether natural or manmade.

After all, the end of of the world is only really a problem when it’s just the end of what we know and we have to start over. That’s where the a facility like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault comes in.

Located in mountains of a remote Norwegian island, this subterranean structure houses  860,000 seed samples collected from nearly every nation in world.

While there are seed vaults meant to serve the same purpose, Svalbard is the most remote and perhaps the most secure. It could mean the salvation of agriculture and human survival, should a doomsday come to pass.

Hopefully, humanity as a whole won’t need to utilize the resources within anytime soon, but it’s still work knowing what’s inside.

A worker opens the iced entrance door to storeroom 1 at international gene bank Svalbard Global Seed Vault (SGSV) near LongyearbyenImage Source: Reuters

Humanity Frozen Investment For Survival
Two new seed deposits are expected to join the 5,000 species sometime this year. When they’re added, it will be one of the few times the Svalbard Global Seed Vault’s doors are opened.

The small parking area and short bridge that leads to the vault’s slanted entrance are among scare man-made sights in the Arctic archipelago.

Locked by an ordinary key, the steel door leads to a concrete tunnel that takes rare visitors to a freezing cavern and set of airlock doors. Behind them are the actual seed vaults.

The temperature within is kept at -18C, to preserve the total of 865,871 packets of seeds that represent the world’s most important species of plants, primarily human crop staples like rice, wheat, and soy.

Like a massive refrigerator, the tight safeguards, frozen temperatures, and protective containers that maintain the seeds mean the vault would still function 200 years after power was cut off.

Storage_containers_Image Source: Wikimedia

Already Playing A Role In Our Present 
Despite the significance of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault—in terms of what it houses as well as why it’s maintained—it’s not something most people think about or are even aware of. The vault has gotten extra attention recently because of what it says about our present rather an our future.

Seeds were withdrawn from the vault for the first time since its opening in 2008 after Syria’s civil war prompted a request for wheat, barley, and chickpeas native to the middle east.

This instance shows that it doesn’t take a doomsday scenario for a global seed vault to prove its use. Pests, floods, climate change, and war could easily have us opening its doors, but hopefully this structure will be accepting far more deposits than withdrawals in the near and distant future.

Asmund AsdalImage Source: Reuters

Did you know the Svalbard Global Seed Vault played such an important role in human survival and agriculture?

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