For a rainy day: seeds of a million plants are stored in the Arctic

For a rainy day: seeds of a million plants are stored in the Arctic

We have never wondered what we will eat if we survive after a cataclysm of a planetary scale – when everything is washed away by a wave, covered with ashes, burned out by gamma waves or disappeared after the invasion of giant grasshoppers? Scientists have wondered, yet how! And they prepared for the apocalypse in full growth by equipping the World Seed Vault in Svalbard, which collected seeds of agricultural and wild crops from all continents.

Top secret

The World Seed Warehouse is a specially protected place. It is located far beyond the Arctic Circle, among the icy deserts, at a depth of more than 100 m. Racks with samples are stored behind five armored gates with combination locks, only a few people on the planet are allowed to enter. But the doors to the vault are rarely opened – only for the next replenishment of the collection.

Any country can send its seeds to the bank and get them back upon request. For 2020, 1 million (!) species are waiting in the world pantry, 500 seeds each, and it is designed for 4.5 million. According to scientists, there are still a couple of million left to collect, and this will take more than a dozen years. Then humanity will be able to exhale: even with the complete destruction of the entire terrestrial flora, it will be possible to recreate it. Prince Charles of England, who actively supports environmental projects, personally donated 27 samples of fruits and vegetables to the seed vault.

Seeds were taken out of the bank only once. Syrian specialists asked to return to them boxes of wheat, oats and herbs that they sent to Svalbard before the 2011 war. The fact is that after the transfer of the national seed bank from Aleppo to Beirut, many samples were lost.

Why exactly there

The construction of the warehouse in 2008 was financed by the Government of Norway, only then it received international status and came under the control of the UN. Svalbard was chosen because of suitable conditions: permafrost, there is no threat of earthquakes and floods. In addition, electricity is not required to maintain the desired temperature of -18 ° C, so bank maintenance does not cost astronomical sums. The absence of people for hundreds of kilometers around also played a role.

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