An enormous ice-covered storage lined with thick concrete walls, called the 'doomsday' Global Seed Vault, sits 130 meters inside a sandstone mountain on the remote island of Spitsbergen, Svalbarg, roughly 800 miles from the North Pole, where a diverse selection of seeds from across the globe are kept, reported Business Insider on Dec. 21, 2015.
Built in 2008, the vault is reportedly safe-keeping around 556 million seeds of 837,931 types, with new shipments arriving every now and then, stores at a controlled temperature of 18 degrees Celsius to avoid degradation for use in case of a global catastrophe.
"This vault is built for humanity to survive," said Michael Koch, from the organization that manages the seed vault, Crop Trust.
The island of Svalbard in Norway was deemed the perfect location for the doomsday seed vault, being a natural "freezer," as well as its remoteness, keeping the seeds away from conflict zones in the world. Also, it is relatively accessible thanks to the regular scheduled flights in the island, noted CNN on Oct. 26, 2015.
"It is like a holy place," said Koch. "Every time I come here I feel like I'm in a cathedral. This is a place to pause and to think. It's a unique place, a very important place for humanity."
The seeds are kept inside airtight aluminum bags, and stored in crates as they are shipped from various countries to Norway. Once inside the Global Seed Vault, the containers are not allowed to be opened or removed by anyone who is not part of the institution that had the seeds shipped. They are simply kept inside the vault - until needed.
On Sept. 24, 2015, Live Science reported that the first withdrawal from the vault has been made as researchers from the Middle East requested to pull out the seeds they had previously deposited in order to replace the plant material kept inside a gene bank located near Aleppo city in Syria, which has been destroyed by war.
The withdrawn seeds included varieties of barley, grass pea, wheat and other essential food crops that are preserved by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) for indigenous communities in North Africa and the Near East.
"If something were to happen to one of those collections around the world, they can always come back to the seed vault and retrieve what might have been lost," explained spokesman for Crop Trust, Brian Lainoff.
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