By Catherine McGeer •
Published: 26 Nov 2023 • 11:04
Norway’s Noah Ark of Seeds
NESTLED within the icy solitude between Norway and the North Pole lies an extraordinary fortress—the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This colossal underground bunker, penetrating over 100 meters into a mountain on the island of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, holds a treasure crucial for humanity’s survival.
Designed as a protective haven for the planet’s seed reserves, the vault safeguards over 1.1 million seed varieties sourced from nearly every corner of the globe. These seeds represent essential crops like maize, rice, wheat, aubergine, lettuce, barley, and potatoes, ensuring genetic diversity for future agricultural needs.
Selected for its freezing temperatures and permafrost, Svalbard provides the ideal conditions for preserving seeds, guaranteeing their viability for centuries. Dubbed the ‘Noah’s Ark of seeds,’ this facility stands resiliently against any catastrophe that might threaten global food security.
The alarming decline of biodiversity over the years, with 75 per cent of plant species disappearing and a significant loss of livestock breeds, spurred global organisations to action. The initiative for a secure seed bank gained momentum in the 1980s. The visionaries behind this monumental project, including agricultural engineer José Esquinas, recognised the necessity of preserving seeds to sustain a growing population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050.
This technological marvel, owned by the Norwegian government and financially supported by entities like the FAO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, required an initial investment of €9 million. Additional funds totalling €20 million were allocated to fortify the vault against moisture, with an annual maintenance cost of approximately €1 million. Protected within layers of aluminium foil and stored in meticulously labelled boxes, these seeds offer a lifeline for humanity’s sustenance.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Share this story
Subscribe to our Euro Weekly News alerts to get the latest stories into your inbox!
By signing up, you will create a Euro Weekly News account if you don't already have one. Review our
I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!
Download our media pack in either English or Spanish.