Improvements on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Publisert 20.05.2017

After nine years of operation, Svalbard Global Seed Vault is facing technical improvements in connection with water intrusion in the outer part of the access tunnel because the permafrost has not established itself as projected.

Operation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a collaboration between several players. The seed vault is owned by the Norwegian government and administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (LMD). Statsbygg is responsible for the administration of the physical installation and the technical operation of the vault. LMD has entered into a 10-year operating agreement with the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen), which is responsible for the operations of the seed vault and the International foundation Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), which is contributing financially.

  • The seeds in the seed vault have never been threatened and will remain safe during implementation of the measures.
  • The measures are being carried out to provide additional security to the seed vault, based on a precautionary (“better safe than sorry”) approach.
  • Description of the measures:
    - Removal of heat sources in the access tunnel will protect against water intrusion resulting from potential climate change.
    - Drainage ditches will be constructed on the mountainside to prevent melt water from Platåfjellet accumulating around the access tunnel and to protect against water intrusion resulting from any climate change.
    - The construction of waterproof walls inside the tunnel will provide additional protection for the actual vault.
    - Alternatives for a new access tunnel to the seed vault will be explored with the aim to improve safety in a long-term perspective.
    - Statsbygg is carrying out a research and development project that will monitor the permafrost on Svalbard.
  • The measures will provide the most optimal maintenance and surveillance of the installation.

Statsbygg will answer all questions and enquiries regarding the measures.