The Global Seed Vault
Svalbard's Global Seed Vault is the world's largest security stock for the variety of agricultural plants stored in the world's gene banks. The seed vault is located just west of Longyearbyen, close to the airport. The only thing that is visible from the outside is its iconic entrance, but inside there is a tunnel about 130 meters straight into the mountain, which leads to three rooms where the seed samples are stored.
The seed vault was completed in 2008, and its purpose is to create an extra level of security for the valuable genetic diversity found in the gene banks. There are more than one million seed samples collected inside the vault, from all corners of the world, and preserved at -18 ° C.
The seed vault is not open for visits, but its characteristic entrance is difficult to miss. If you are one of those who already have visited Svalbard, you most likely have passed the building on your way to and from the airport. At the foot of the mountain, a futuristic concrete corridor rises alone from an otherwise deserted and barren landscape, and an artwork that reflects the rays of the midnight sun in the summertime, and in the winter illuminates the polar night's severe darkness with a light reminiscent of the blue-green shimmer of the Northern Lights, decorates the entrance. For many, it is a unique view, and perhaps it also raises thoughts about our existence. The artwork is called Perpetual Repercussion, award-winning, and has been developed by the artist Dyveke Sanne.
Svalbard is geographically very protected from the unrest and conflicts that are going on in other parts of the world. It is an inaccessible place, and in an interview, seed vault coordinator Åsmund Asdal says that countries that otherwise are in conflict with each other can have their seeds side by side inside the vault. But even if the gene bank at the best never needs to be used, one withdrawn has been done. In 2015, seeds lost in the civil war in Syria, when the gene bank in Aleppo became inaccessible, could be replaced ast he gene bank had sent backup copies of its seeds to Svalbard's Global Seed Vault.
The vault is built to resist almost any damage, even nuclear bombs. The cold climate also means that there is permafrost in Svalbard - something that is grateful to lean on, for example, if a longer power failure that would knock out the vault's cooling system should occur. At -18 ° C, the seeds are safely stored and ready if they ever are needed.