top of page

Global Seed Vault: the Arctic’s doomsday depository that could save plant life from climate change

Some 1,300 miles into the Arctic Circle and just 650 miles from the North Pole lies the world’s most important freezer.

Situated on Spitsbergen Island in the Svalbard archipelago, the Global Seed Vault is owned by the Norwegian government and sits next to the world’s northernmost town, Longyearbyen, with a population of just over 2,000.

Contained within in it are 930,000 varieties of the world’s most precious seeds, sent by the gene banks across the globe to insure them against risks in their home country, such as natural disasters, war and looting.

Built to house as many as five million seed varieties, in the most extreme circumstances, the vault is intended to act as a “doomsday” depository for global agriculture, should a major catastrophe wipe out the plants we rely on. But its main role is in protecting diversity from threats that already exist today.

John Cook

bottom of page