At a time when the science and practice of restoration ecology is adapting to ongoing environmental and social change, innovations in both methods and concepts are essential. Encouraging innovation means allowing open debate about alternative approaches that may add to the toolbox available for restoration. Such approaches are usually being examined as additions to, rather than substitutes for, traditional restoration practices. Recent debate has focused on the scope and intent of restoration as defined in documents such as the Society for Ecological Restoration Standards. There is a mismatch between the default aim in the standards of full restoration to a native reference system and the goals of international restoration efforts that have a broader and more functional focus. The next generation of restoration scientists and practitioners will need to navigate these issues to ensure that restoration remains effective and relevant. This will require, amongst other things, ongoing learning, sharing information and insights, humility, objectivity, continuous examination of assumptions, and questioning current practices and perspectives.