Currently, the Vault holds more than 980,000 samples, originating from almost every country in the world. Ranging from unique varieties of major African and Asian food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum to European and South American varieties of eggplant, lettuce, barley, and potato. In fact, the Vault already holds the most diverse collection of food crop seeds in the world.
The Vault is in an ideal location for long-term seed storage, for several reasons:
The area is geologically stable and humidity levels are low.
The Seed Vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million varieties of crops. Each variety will contain on average 500 seeds, so a maximum of 2.5 billion seeds may be stored in the Vault.
Svalbard is the farthest north a person can fly on a scheduled flight, offering a remote location that is nevertheless accessible.
The permafrost offers the Vault room with a natural freezing, providing a cost effective and fail-safe method to conserve seeds.
Deep inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, lies the Global Seed Vault.
The focus of the Vault is to safeguard as much of the world’s unique crop genetic material as possible, while also avoiding unnecessary duplication. It will take some years to assemble because some genebanks need to multiply stocks of seed first, and other seeds need regenerating before they can be shipped to Svalbard.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a fail-safe seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time — and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters.