WILD NATURE

Norway's Frozen Seedbank: Noah's Ark for Nature

In a remote mountainside on the Norwegian tundra sits the "doomsday vault," a backup against disaster -- a global seedbank that could be used to replant the world. 

Seedbank Entrance

In a remote mountainside on the Norwegian tundra sits the "doomsday vault," a backup against disaster -- manmade or otherwise. Inside lives the last hope should the unthinkable occur: a global seedbank that could be used to replant the world. 

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Guarded by Polar Bears

"The region on Svalbard surrounding the Seed Vault is remote, severe, and inhabited by polar bears," according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which helps to support the vault's operations. This one's just a sculpture, however. 

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Adding to the Vault

A seed box is carried into the vault by Ola Westengen, operation manager.

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Seeds in Storage

Seed boxes are stored inside the vault on giant shelves. The vault currently contains half a million different types of seeds.

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Frozen Doors

The arctic permafrost offers natural freezing for the seeds, while additional cooling brings the temperatures down to minus 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Seedbank Entrance

The preciousness of the seeds there is also reflected in the inaccessible nature of the vault. "Anyone seeking access to the seeds themselves will have to pass through four locked doors: the heavy steel entrance doors, a second door approximately 115 meters down the tunnel and finally the two keyed air-locked doors," the Trust writes. "Keys are coded to allow access to different levels of the facility. Not all keys unlock all doors."

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Seedbank Entrance

The preciousness of the seeds there is also reflected in the inaccessible nature of the vault. "Anyone seeking access to the seeds themselves will have to pass through four locked doors: the heavy steel entrance doors, a second door approximately 115 meters down the tunnel and finally the two keyed air-locked doors," the Trust writes. "Keys are coded to allow access to different levels of the facility. Not all keys unlock all doors."

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

A Truly Remote Location

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Artwork in the Seedbank

Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The front entrance of the Global Seed Vault in Norway.
Mari Tefre/Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Norway's Frozen Seedbank: Noah's Ark for Nature

In a remote mountainside on the Norwegian tundra sits the "doomsday vault," a backup against disaster -- a global seedbank that could be used to replant the world. 

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