In the Arctic Circle, about 800 miles from the North Pole, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, lies the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. A repository for the earth's seeds, Svalbard acts as a fail-safe freezer built within the permafrost to withstand time as well as natural and man-made disasters. It also serves as a backup for the hundreds of other more vulnerable gene banks around the world. The threat of climate change, decreasing agricultural diversity, extinctions, or a single catastrophic event has given rise to the need for such a safeguard, should reintroduction of species become necessary in the future.
With Svalbard as a starting point, Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and research professor Dornith Doherty has been documenting the world's seed banks since 2008. Over four continents, from Australia's Kings Park & Botanic Gardens to the N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry in Russia, her project, Archiving Eden, documents the places and processes behind an international effort to catalog and protect the earth's fragile plant life.
Dornith Doherty's Archiving Eden will be published May 2017 by Schilt Publishing.