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All new genebanks need to sign a Deposit Agreement in order to store seed duplicates in Svalbard Global Seed Vault. From the Seed Vault’s side, NordGen is signing the agreement on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Once the agreement is signed, the genebank can start preparing the list of seed samples (the accession list) that are to be deposited in the Seed Vault.
Guidelines for new depositor genebanks are available in Arabic, French and Spanish, see downloadable files below.
At least six weeks before the seed samples are sent to Svalbard, the accession list need to be delivered to NordGen. NordGen will validate the information make a preliminary update to the database called the Seed Portal. When this is done, NordGen will contact the genebank, provide an import permission from the Norwegian state and confirm a go for shipment.
The genebank is also asked to choose a logistic partner which can deliver the seeds all the way to Svalbard, including customs at the airport in Oslo, Gardemoen. Today, we are not aware of any other companies than DHL that are able to do this without complications or delays. If DHL can’t be used, an agreement must be made with NordGen before the seeds are shipped. The genebank is also asked to choose a logistic partner which can deliver the seeds all the way to Svalbard, including customs clearance at the airport in Oslo, Gardemoen. The sender needs to forward the Airway Bill-number (AWB) to NordGen, enabling us to track the parcel on its way to Svalbard.
To make sure that nothing but seed samples are stored in the Seed Vault, all seed packages are scanned at the security control at Longyearbyen airport.
To deposit and store seed duplicates in Svalbard Global Seed Vault is free of charge. So is the seed handling at Svalbard. However, the sending genebank is responsible for the costs associated with packning and sending the seeds.
Since NordGen doesn’t have any permanent staff at Svalbard, it is vital that the seed shipments are adapted to arrive well in time for the fixed Seed Vault openings advertised in NordGen’s calendar.
When NordGen staff go to Svalbard to deposit seeds, they scan the seed boxes at the airport and mark them with institute code and box number. After this, the seed boxes are given a place in the storage shelves. Once the seeds have reached their final resting place, NordGen will send a confirmation with a photo of the boxes to the depositing genebank. Afterwards, the Seed Portal is updated with new data regarding the total number of seed samples, species and depositing genebanks.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a facility for safe, long-term storage of duplicates of seeds stored in international, national and regional genebanks as well as genebanks in institutions and organisations. The service is free of charge and the ownership of the seeds remains with the depositing genebank. However, there are three main conditions, reflected in the Deposit Agreement, that must be fulfilled by genebanks and institutes that want to deposit safety duplicates of seeds in the Seed Vault: