Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Frozen Seeds

The Svalbard Islands, located 1000km north of mainland Norway, are home to the recently officially opened 'doomsday' seed vault, built 130m inside a mountain. This remote location was chosen due to its geological stability, making use of the surrounding permafrost as natural refrigeration to maintain optimal seed storing temperature.

The £5 million vault took 12 months to complete construction. The vault is designed to withstand all natural and human disaster. Eventually it will hold 4.5 million samples from more than 100 countries - an estimated total 2 billion seeds from around the world.

Many countries already have their own collections in national seed banks. If these seeds were lost, lets say due to an earthquake, they would essentially have a backup stash in Svalbard.

"With climate change and other forces threatening the diversity of life that sustains our planet, Norway is proud to be playing a central role in creating a facility capable of protecting what are not just seeds, but the fundamental building blocks of human civilization, " said Norwegian Prime Minister Jen Stoltenberg.

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