On February 26th, 2008 the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, 1,500 kilometers (810 miles) from the North Pole, received millions of it’s first seeds.
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) started the vault to preserve seeds from across the planet in case of a global crisis such as a nuclear disaster, meteor strikes, pandemics or climate change.
The cost to build the vault was 45 million Norwegian krones, which is about $7 million CAD.
The vault is built into the side of a mountain surrounded by permafrost so that in the event of a power grid failure the vault would stay below -4 degrees Celsius in order to naturally keep the seeds preserved.
The seed bank is funded by the Norwegian government, with help from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is investing tens of millions of dollars into the “doomsday seed bank.” As part of a broader $30 million project to protect genetic diversity of the world’s main foods crops, the Gates Foundation is helping to provide money to developing countries so that they can package and ship seeds.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is maintained by contributions from countries, international agencies, and foundations, will financially support the ongoing operation of the seed vault.
In 2009 the bank received the Norwegian Lighting prize and ranked 6th on Time’s best inventions of 2008, which seems kind of low to me considering how vital it is.
As of 2015 there are more then 840,000 samples of over 4,000 plant species. This is a far cry from the original 187,000 samples deposited in 2008, according to Wikipedia.
The scary part? The war in Syria has provided the world it’s first glimpse of a global catastrophe since it’s creation in 2008, and in 2015 they were the first country to make a withdrawal from the bank.
Lets take a tour…
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