Forest seed destined for Svalbard

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Agriculture and Food

For the first time forest tree seeds are officially deposited and stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Sylvi Listhaug together with her Swedish and Danish colleagues Sven-Erik Bucht and Dan Jørgensen, carried the first boxes of Nordic forest tree seeds in to the vault today. This is an important contribution to the conservation of genetic resources.

Initially, accessions will be of Norway spruce (Picea abies ) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) which are the commercially most important tree species in the Nordic region.

The aim of the storage is to secure longterm conservation of forest trees, for three different purposes:

  • Conservation of back-up seed, for conservation purposes
  • Monitoring of long-term changes in genetic diversity of the natural forest
  • Monitor changes in genetic diversity taking place during breeding operations
For the first time forest tree seeds are officially deposited and stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Sylvi Listhaug together with her Swedish and Danish colleagues Sven-Erik Bucht and Dan Jørgensen, carried the first boxes of Nordic forest tree seeds in to the vault today. Credit: Ministry of Agriculture and Food

The genetic diversity of forest tree species worldwide is influenced by a number of factors, of which climate change and forest management activities are most important for the major forest tree species. Fragmentation of populations, browsing, pests and diseases are other factors of varying importance.

Therefore, conservation of forest genetic resources has a high priority, including the monitoring of changes in genetic diversity over time.

A total of 218 seed lots from the Norwegian Forest Seed Center are now selected for the Svalbard seed vault. The oldest one, a pine sample from Tranøy in Norway, is from 1938 and viability tests still show 78 percent germination.

The long term storage of forest tree seeds at Svalbard is a Nordic cooperation, involving the countries Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway. Further accessions of seeds will be provided also from the other participating countries.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is established in the permafrost in the mountains of Svalbard, is designed to store duplicates of seeds from seed collections around the globe. Ensuring that the genetic diversity of the world’s cultural plants is preserved for future generations is an important contribution toward the reduction of hunger and poverty in the world.

Svalbard Global Seed Bank consist of three identical, separate rock vaults, 9.5 x 27 meters each. The seeds stored in the vault are packed in sealed bags inside sealed boxes, and are placed on high shelf racks inside the vault. Credit: Matthias Heyde