HOHHOT, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is piloting a grassland policy insurance program in 13 county-level regions to beef up efforts on ecological protection.
According to the regional forestry and grassland bureau, the pilot program covers nearly 38 million mu (about 2.5 million hectares) of grassland in 13 banners, counties and development zones.
The program is designed to protect the ecology and benefit herders by helping cushion against damages and losses from natural disasters such as droughts, fires, pests and sandstorms, said the bureau.
Local authorities funded 90 percent of the insurance premium, and local herdsmen paid the rest, according to Yang Shiping, the deputy director of the forestry and grassland bureau in Urad Back Banner.
The county-level region, home to parts of the Urad grassland, a major natural grassland in Inner Mongolia, signed the first insurance policy in November 2020 and later gradually expanded the policy insurance to cover more grassland.
"With grassland insurance, our herdsmen can receive compensation even if we encounter natural disasters such as drought, thus ensuring our production and living," said local herder Gereltu. All herdsmen insured in the Urad Back Banner received total compensation of more than 700,000 yuan (about 110,500 U.S. dollars) in 2021.
The autonomous regional government is exploring ways to build a market-oriented guarantee and insurance system that helps protect the grassland ecology. Also, to guard against grassland disasters and promote post-disaster recovery, said Wang Jianhe, the deputy head of Inner Mongolia's forestry and grassland work station.
While protecting grassland ecology, the insurance guarantees the production and life of local herders and prevents them from returning to poverty after such disasters, Wang said.
After a three-year trial period, the insurance policy will be gradually expanded across the entire autonomous region, the official added.