The Svalbard Global seed bank was established in February 2008. It was designed to store seeds for hundreds or even thousands of years in the event of a global disaster. But now, only seven years later, the Syrian civil war made it necessary to withdraw seeds from this doomsday vault.
Svalbard Norway: It would have been easy to imagine the end of the world here surrounded by glaciers, polar bears and the long dark winters of the high arctic. But like Noah’s ark, the global seed bank was designed to preserve life.
Specifically it was designed to preserve the seeds necessary for our food crops and our survival. The doomsday vault is located deep within an ice-covered mountain on Spitzbergen Island, far above the expected sea level rise in centuries of climate change and only 800 miles from the North Pole.
Even if the vault’s electrical power supply is interrupted,the vault won’t thaw for hundreds of years. The vault is designed to survive a missile attack or even a nuclear war. The preserved seeds will also protect us against the possibility that GMO crops damage the gene pool of the global food supply, or create an unsustainable plant monoculture.
The doomsday vault designers thought of nearly everything, With each year the seed bank grew more and more deposits from around the world until it reached nearly 865,000 varieties of seeds. Some of these seeds were from the International Center for Agricultural research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) which was located in Aleppo, Syria.
The Syrian war forced ICARDA to move to Beirut, Lebanon. Some of the seeds were lost or destroyed before or during the move, so now, only seven years after the seeds were deposited, the first withdrawal is being made to replace the seeds destroyed in Syria’s civil war.
A spokesperson for the seedbank said that while withdrawing seeds from a doomsday vault appears to be very bad news, it actually shows that the vault works and is a valuable resource for our violent and troubled world.