Table of Contents
Common Barley. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The purpose of the vault
There are 76 different institutions who have placed seeds in the vault. Some are national-level organizations, but many if not most gather from multiple countries. 37 gather seeds from more than one continent, and one – the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands – actually gathers from all 7 continents including Antarctica (or as mentioned before, a near-Antarctic island).
Storage box and seed pouches for vault. Photo: Nordgen
Tel Hadya, Syria genebank. Photo: ICARDA
Our recent blog post, 18 Fun Fact s About Cannabis , mentioned that Bill Gates and other investors have secured a “doomsday seed vault” to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds. As promised, here’s more information on the famed vault.
Such a place exists. It’s called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and it’s located on a remote island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The idea behind the vault is that even though seed depositories are located around the world, all are vulnerable in one way or another. Hence the need for the catastrophe-proof Svalbard Global Seed Vault, aptly nicknamed the “Doomsday Vault,” that opened on February 26, 2008.
How does it work?
Just what is the “Doomsday Vault?”
Countries and organizations deposit seeds that are held for withdrawal at a future time. Each organization’s seeds are stored in the equivalent of safety deposit boxes. If disaster wipes out a crop and all locally stored seeds are not viable for whatever reason, a depositor can withdraw the saved seeds so the crop doesn’t become extinct.