(lat. conservare 'bewahren erhalten'), Haltbarmachung von Speisen u.a. organ. Stoffen (z.B. anatom. Präparate), durch physikal. oder chem. Verfahren, die eine Keimtötung oder -hemmung erzielt sollen. Zu den physikal. Verfahren der K. zählen v.a. das Einkochen, die Tiefkühlung, das Pasteurisieren und die Gefriertrocknung. Unter chem. K. versteht man das Einsalzen, Pökeln, Räuchern, Einzuckern, einlegen und Säuern, insbes. aber den Einsatz von Konservierungsmitteln.
In the life sciences, action taken to protect and preserve the natural world, usually from pollution, overexploitation, and other harmful features of human activity. The late 1980s saw a great increase in public concern for the environment, with membership in conservation groups, such as Friends of the Earth and the US Sierra Club, rising sharply. Globally the most important issues include the depletion of atmospheric ozone by the action of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (thought to contribute to an intensification of the greenhouse effect), and deforestation.
Action by governments has been prompted and supplemented by private agencies, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature. In attempts to save particular species or habitats, a distinction is often made between preservation—that is, maintaining the pristine state of nature exactly as it was or might have been—and conservation, the management of natural resources in such a way as to integrate the requirements of the local human population with those of the animals, plants, or the habitat being conserved.
Conservation groups in Britain originated in the 1860s; they include the Commons Preservation Society 1865, which fought successfully against the enclosure of Hampstead Heath (1865) and Epping Forest (1866) in London; the National Footpaths Preservation Society 1844; and the National Trust 1895.