The protection of all wildlife and in particular the natural habitat of said species is hereby declared to be the public policy of the Government of Puerto Rico. All public agencies and instrumentalities shall consult the Department on any matter, permit or franchise that may have a predictable significant impact on wildlife. The Department may seek the advice and take into consideration recommendations from agencies such as the Federal Forestry Service, the Planning Board and duly credited Natural Science Departments of academic institutions, concerning any proposal that may affect the critical natural habitat essential to rare or endangered species. Any public organization or entity that fosters the conservation of wildlife may request that a particular species or its critical natural habitat be designated as rare or endangered, provided it presents scientific information to that end. The Department shall handle such a request pursuant to the provisions of §§ 2101 of Title 3, better known as the "Uniform Administrative Procedures Act". This chapter establishes a prohibition against modifying those critical natural habitats essential to rare or endangered species. In the case of critical natural habitats that are non-essential to rare or endangered species, modifications may be permitted solely if the proposal is of vital public interest and if there is no other alternative. In making a determination as to whether alternatives do or do not exist, the cost of these may not be taken into consideration as an element for analysis. Should a critical natural habitat be finally modified, a similar ecologically valuable habitat at least three times larger that the area to be modified must be acquired to be transferred to the Department. When modifying a natural habitat, the Department shall be required to employ a mitigation mechanism for the acquisition of tracts of land of equal or greater ecological value that shall be ceded, establishing as a priority the acquisition of land to extend the existing Commonwealth forests and biological corridors and to create new Commonwealth forests, natural reserves and riparian areas. The fragmentation of forested areas shall be avoided and the mitigation of wetlands shall be achieved in coordination of the Corps of Engineers.
Citation: P.R. Code Ann. tit. 12, § 107a