The paper summarizes ideas which were discussed during the ‘Spontaneous Succession in Ecosystem Restoration’ conference and elaborated through further discussion among the authors. It seeks to promote the integration of scientific knowledge on spontaneous vegetation succession into restoration programs. A scheme illustrating how knowledge of spontaneous succession may be applied to restoration is presented, and perspectives and possible future research on using spontaneous vegetation succession in ecosystem restoration are proposed. It is concluded that when implementing spontaneous succession for ecological restoration the following points must be considered: setting clear aims; evaluation of environmental site conditions; deciding whether spontaneous succession is an appropriate way to achieve the aims; prediction of successional development; monitoring of the results. The need for interdisciplinary approaches and communication between scientists, engineers and decision-makers is emphasized.