In the latter half of the 20th century, native pine woodlands in Scotland were restricted to small remnantareas within which there was little regeneration. These woodlands are important from a conservationperspective and are habitat for numerous species of conservation concern. Recent developments haveseen a large increase in interest in woodland restoration and a dramatic increase in regeneration andwoodland spread. The proximate factor enabling this regeneration is a reduction in grazing pressure fromsheep and, particularly, deer. However, this has only been possible as a result of a complex interplaybetween ecological, political and socio-economic factors. We are currently seeing the decline of landmanagement practices instituted 150–200 years ago, changes in land ownership patterns, culturalrevival, and changes in societal perceptions of the Scottish landscape. These all feed into the currentmove to return large areas of the Scottish Highlands to tree cover. I emphasize the need to considerrestoration in a multidisciplinary framework which accounts not just for the ecology involved but alsothe historical and cultural context. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.