For those of you that may not know today, 22 April, is Earth Day, a day set aside to create awareness about how we look after the world we live in. Norway plays an enormous role in such awareness, more specifically the the archipelago of Svalbard. Located approximately 1300 km from the North Pole, this part of the world is a nature lover or photographers dream destination and has everything from fjords, rugged mountains, icebergs, polar bears, reindeer, walrus, and seals and if that is not going enthrall you, then the northern lights most certainly will. It is also home to the northernmost permanent settlement in the world, Longyearbyen, and to many different research stations that monitor the earth’s delicate balance.
But more importantly it is where you will find the world’s largest seed vault, Svalbard Seed Vault or “Doomsday Vault” a storage unit that will one day hold all the seeds of the world. Built in 2008, the vault has a 120 m tunnel that takes you deep into the permafrost of the mountain where three vaults that have a capacity to store 4.5 million varieties of seed. Presently they are storing 1 million different seed crops from various countries around the world. At a cost of 8, 8 million dollars one might consider the necessity of such an expenditure, but after the recent attack on Kyiv and the potential destruction of the Ukraine’s seed bank, I think that answer is self explanatory. The vault acts just like a bank in that governments deliver seeds in boxes that are checked for harmful substances and the seed content is recorded but the packs are not opened, trusting that all governments are responsible and have their nations best interests at heart . I guess when we talk about the survival of mankind, egos don’t play a role!