A newly arrived box containing seeds from Japan and America is carried into the international gene bank Svalbard Global Seed Vault outside Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen, Norway, March 1st 2016. Credit: Reuters/Heiko Junge
TheSvalbard Global Seed Vault[Svalbard Globale Frøhvelv] is a secure seedbank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres from the North Pole. Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research [CGIAR], started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or “spare” copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises.The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust [GCDT] and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center [NordGen].
The Norwegian government entirely funded the vault’s approximately NOK 45 million [US$9 million] construction. Storing seeds in the vault is free to end users, with Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust paying for operational costs. Primary funding for the Trust comes from such organisations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from various governments worldwide.