A new online service allows you to virtually visit the Svalbard Global Seed Warehouse, known as the Doomsday Vault.
A new virtual reality (VR) experience is inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, known as the “Doomsday Vault”, a sanctuary built in the Arctic to protect Earth’s seeds from disaster and environmental destruction.
The online experience was launched by Virtual Tour Company earlier this month as part of the 15th anniversary of the seed store opening. You can participate in this experience for free and without any registration.
Users can tour the outside and inside of the warehouse as if they were on a tour. There’s also a wealth of informational texts and audio guides to keep you informed.
The repository, built by the Norwegian Ministry of Food and Agriculture in conjunction with the regional gene bank NordGen and the Crop Trust, is located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago. You can tour the warehouse via link below:
THERE ARE MORE THAN 1.1 MILLION TYPES OF SEEDS
Located on the slope of a snow-covered hill, the warehouse currently contains more than 1.1 million seed varieties from almost every country in the world. While the vast majority of seeds consist of commonly eaten grains such as rice and wheat, thousands of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other plant specimens, including hemp and opium, are also in storage.
WHY IS THE WAREHOUSE SO FAR?
Samples are stored at -18°C to delay aging as much as possible. One of the reasons the warehouse is located so far away is the naturally cold weather of Svalbard. Also, this island is well insulated from the dangers of human activities and well connected to transport routes and infrastructure.
The primary mission of this repository is to preserve plant genetic diversity to ensure the Earth’s future food supply. It does this by providing “long-term storage of seed copies from all gene banks and countries involved in the collective effort of the global community to ensure the world’s future food supply,” according to its website.
In other words, seeds around the world are preserved as a solid backup for gene banks in the event of a disaster, whether from mismanagement and funding cuts, or war and climate change. But, somewhat ironically, there are some estimates that the warehouse may be vulnerable to melting permafrost caused by the climate crisis.