Arctic illustration photo - Jeremy Harbeck afp.com
The "Noah's Ark plant", the world's largest seed reserve located in the Arctic, was to welcome this Tuesday a large shipment of seeds, stored in its bowels to preserve biodiversity in the face of dangers, including climate. More than 60,000 seed samples, owned by 36 regional and international genetic banks, will join the vault buried in a mountain near Longyearbyen (Norway), a thousand kilometers from the North Pole.
Want to see what's inside the @GlobalSeedVault? Take a virtual tour here 👉https: //t.co/cJqOCUElvQ 👈 minus the cold, plus storyline #genebanks work on safety duplication to secure our #food, forever pic.twitter.com/oB7W44KnTF- Nelissa Jamora 🌎 (@econ_genebanks) May 18, 2018
"As the pace of climate change and biodiversity loss increase, a new urgency is emerging in efforts to save food crops from extinction," said Stefan Schmitz, director of the Crop Trust, responsible for managing Reserve. “The scale of today's seed depot (…) demonstrates a growing global commitment (…) for the conservation and use of crop diversity crucial for farmers in their efforts to adapt to changes growing conditions, "he said in a statement.
Over a million varieties stored
Among the seeds to be deposited by institutions in Brazil, the United States, Germany, Morocco, Mali, Israel and even Mongolia are common staple crops but also wild varieties that are less used. This arrival will bring to about 1.05 million the number of varieties stored in the three underground alcoves which form the "vault of the Last Judgment", another nickname of the reserve.
Wanting to be a safety net in the face of natural disasters, wars, climate change, disease or even the imperatives of men, the structure was created in 2008 thanks to funding from Norway. Its usefulness has been bluntly highlighted by the Syrian conflict. In 2015, researchers were able to recover from Svalbard the duplicates of seeds disappeared in the destruction of the gene bank of the city of Aleppo.
Arctic warms twice as fast
The States and depositary institutions remain the owners of the seeds and can recover them at their convenience. Paradoxically, the vault itself has been overtaken by climate change. In 2016, it underwent water infiltration at the entrance tunnel due to the melting of permafrost.
Norway has since funded work to increase the resilience of the reserve in an environment that will become warmer and wetter. Scientists say the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
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