Global Seed Vault: Global Crop Diversity Trust, Need, Storage, Permafrost, Threat (Download PDF)

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Global Seed Vault or Svalbard Global Seed Vault

  • It is a secure seed bank.
  • Backup of the backups.
  • Lies 360 feet inside of the 1,500-foot Plataberget mountain in Nordenskiöld Land on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway.
  • Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
  • It houses the world՚s largest collection of seeds.
  • Airtight boxes have been used to lock millions of seeds of various crop varieties at -18°C.
  • Built to withstand manmade and natural disasters.
  • it՚s construction began in March 2007 in a mountainside near Longyearbyen.
  • The Vault՚s operation and management is being looked after by the Nordic Genetic Research Centre (NordGen) .
  • It celebrated its 10th anniversary of the official opening on Feb 26,2018.

Some of the Species Being Safeguarded

  • Seeds of onions from Brazil.
  • Guar beans from central Asia.
  • Wildflowers from a meadow at Prince Charles՚s home in the UK.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
Seed Vault Construction Began in March 2007

The Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT)

  • Provides scientific guidance.
  • Assistance in arranging shipments to the Vault.
  • Finances a large part of the day-to-day operation and management of the Vault.


  • To protect seeds against plant diseases.
  • To safeguard the DNA of the world՚s crops.

Protection against catastrophes:

  • Nuclear war
  • Asteroid strikes
  • Climate change

Storage & Capacity

  • Capacity to hold up to 4.5 million varieties of crops.
  • Each variety will contain on an average 500 seeds.
  • At present the vault holds more than 980,000 samples.
  • Situated 394 ft. (120 m) above sea level.
  • 394 ft. (120 m) is also the tunnel length.

Most Diverse Collection of Food Crop Seeds in the World

African and Asian Food Staples

  • Maize
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Cowpea
  • Sorghum

European and South American Varieties

  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Barley
  • Potato


  • Perennially frozen soil found in the Earth՚s higher latitudes.
  • The temperature is kept stable at 0°F (-18°C) .
  • Electrically powered freezer unit.
  • The temperature will never exceed 25°F (-4°C) .

Threat or ‘Doomsday’ Seed Vault

  • To survive global disasters breached by climate change.
  • Permafrost in western Svalbard may completely disappear by the next century if greenhouse – gas emissions continue to increase at current rate.
  • However the builders at SGSV announced that water had reached no seeds. Also the repair work was under way.

Measures taken to prevent the threat:

  • The storage facility is being waterproofed.
  • Trenches are being digged to channel melt and rainwater away.

India՚s Seed Vault

  • A storage facility with over 5,000 seed accessions at Chang La in the Himalayas.
  • Height is maintained at 17,300 feet.
  • Set of seed of one species is collected from different locations or different populations.

Vault Maintenance

  • The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research worked together to maintain the vault.
  • At the National Gene Bank in Delhi, this vault was started as an additional storage or a safety duplicate for the seeds.
  • 10°C is enough to maintain a seed being stored for few years.
  • Also they need to be kept at a -15°C to minus -20°C (range) for 10 to 20 years.

- Published/Last Modified on: April 8, 2020


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