In the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres from the North Pole there is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Svalbard globale frøhvelv) the most secure seedbank of the world. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is designed to preserve the genetic diversity of the world’s food crops, an essential part of the work of preserving the world’s biodiversity.
The Seed Vault has the capacity to store 4,5 million different seed samples and each of these can contain on average 500 seeds, so a maximum of 2,25 billion seeds may be stored in Svalbard. When in full use it will be the world’s largest collection of seeds.
The seedban is constructed 120 metres inside a sandstone mountain. Svalbard is a unique location that was chosen because it has very specific features. It has perfect climate and geology for underground cold storage. Because of the permafrost, the temperature will never rise above minus 3,5 Celsius. The sandstone at Svalbard is stable to build in (its lacks of tectonic activity) and low in radiation. The seeds are stored and conserved in a frozen state at -18°C.
The vault could preserve seeds from most major food crops for hundreds of years. and some, including those of important grains, could survive for thousands of years.