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New suppliers for the seed vault

For the first time, seeds were received from the Slovak gene bank, as well as from Poland, to Svalbard's Global seed vault. With the two new suppliers, deposits from 78 different gene banks are now stored in the vault.

– Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which contains more than 4000 plant species, helps to preserve the genetic diversity of the world. This is an incredibly important factor in global food security, says Minister of Agriculture and Food Olaug Bollestad.

Both Gabriela Matecna, the Slovak Minister of Agriculture, and Olaug Bollestad participated in the first seed deposit from Slovakia to the seed vault in Svalbard. Matecna emphasized how important the seed vault is for genetic diversity. Together, the two ministers carried the Slovakian seeds through the seed vault entrance.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Credit: Statsbygg/Trond Isaksen

Wider interest in seed storage

In 2019, several countries have declared interest in contributing stocks to the vault. NordGen confirms that Romania has signed a supplier agreement, committing the country to contributing seeds. NordGen was also present and deposited with seeds from Sudan and ICARDA. Several gene banks send seeds for storage in Svalbard, and the next seed deposit will take place in February 2020.

Seed vault upgrade

An international initiative to establish a secure seed storage facility led to the establishment of the Svalbard seed vault in 2008. One of the main factors for siting the facility in Svalbard is because of its cold climate. Svalbard Global Seed Vault recently received the award as one of the most influential projects in the world in the last 50 years..

Bollestad cut the ribbon with CEO Harald Nikolaisen from Statsbygg
Bollestad cut the ribbon with CEO Harald Nikolaisen from Statsbygg for the upgraded seed vault. Credit: Statsbygg/Trond Isaksen

Climate change has led to permafrost no longer settling around the vault entrance, which caused water to penetrate the outer part of the tunnel. In January 2018, Statsbygg started upgrading the vault, and the completed project was handed over as Bollestad, with CEO Harald Nikolaisen of Statsbygg, cut the ribbon. The Arctic region is strongly affected by climate change, and with the current upgrade of the vault it will now remain secure even in a warmer and wetter Arctic climate.

Outside the seed vault, architects from Snøhetta have designed a new  technical hub, where operations machinery and other heat sources can be  contained, as well as a separate transit hall for receiving and  cataloging new seeds.
Outside the seed vault, architects from Snøhetta have designed a new technical hub, where operations machinery and other heat sources can be contained, as well as a separate transit hall for receiving and cataloging new seeds. Credit: Ministry of Agriculture and Food
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