In the remote High Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, 1,300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, seeds from around the world lie dormant, safe, and secure in a biological Noah’s ark.


It’s known for its outstanding wildlife and nature, attracting explorers from around the world. People arrive in winter to witness the beautiful Northern Lights dance across the sky, while in summer, there’s the Midnight Sun, bringing 24 hours of daylight.

But what most visitors to Svalbard don’t realise is that housed unseen within this magical landscape is an important treasure trove crucial to the survival of the planet.


Near to Longyearbyen, the most northern town in the world, lies Platâberget mountain. Locked away in cold, dry vaults, lie over one million dormant seed samples of crops and trees from all over the world.

Able to store up to 4.5 million varieties, this is the world’s largest secure seed storage facility, ready and waiting in the event of an apocalyptic emergency, to protect and restore biodiversity and future of life on our planet.


So that the seeds are properly preserved, the vaults are kept at a constant temperature of -18 degrees Celsius and must have low humidity. Svalbard has natural permafrost, which means that even in the case of a power outage, the vault will stay cold and dry enough to keep the seeds frozen.

However, in 2017 thanks to climate change, melting permafrost seeped into the vault itself. Despite this incident, Svalbard is still considered one of the safest places in the world for long-term storage of the seeds.

Test your knowledge about the Seed Vault

1. How many seeds are there in the Seed Vault?

2. What temperature are the vaults kept at?

3. Where is the Seed Vault located?

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