The Ministry of Culture held an international forum on March 8 in the hope of identifying the cultural values of and proper preservation methods for Taiwan's industrial landscapes, including the historic sites of Pingxi coal mines, Taiwan Sugar Railways' North-South Light Rail System, and the Alishan Forest Railway, by comparing them with equivalent sites overseas.
The forum, named the 2019 International Forum on the Challenge and Realization of Industrial Heritage Routes, was attended by international experts including professor Helmuth Albrecht of the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology in Germany; UK world heritage expert Barry Gamble; Ichiro Oshima (大島一朗), international director of the Japan Industrial Archaeology Society; and Germany expert Paul Lawitzke from the Ruhr Industrial Zone; and local specialists.
The forum stemmed from a study on the feasibility of preserving the industrial and cultural heritage of the North-South Light Rail System. Taiwan Sugar Corp. was ordered to connect its train system to the central railway network for national defense purposes when the Korean War broke out in 1950, and earlier during the Japanese colonial era, it also served as a preparatory military railway. Today, even though the light rail has been partly dismantled in places, its special place in history remains.
In hopes of developing more "cultural routes" across Taiwan, the Ministry has commissioned Chang Kun-chen (張崑振), an associate professor at the National Taipei University of Technology, and his team to study the light rail system and its surrounding cultural and industrial ecology.
Taiwan's Cultural Heritage Protection Act was amended in 2005 to offer legal protection to industrial landscapes, traffic and transportation landscapes, and water-processing facilities.