Substantial amounts of money have been invested in peatland restoration over the last decades to address the current challenges of global changes and to enhance biodiversity. Given the magnitude of financial investments and the pressing societal needs, it is essential that appropriate decisions are made about the restoration techniques employed to avoid negative consequences and to optimise the benefits to human society. Based on the knowledge and expertise that has been developed over recent decades, three approaches to peatland restoration are discussed regarding their implications for climate change, nutrient fluxes and biodiversity: peatland inundation, topsoil removal and slow rewetting. Considered over the long term, for instance tens or hundreds of years, rewetted peatlands have the potential to fulfil multiple restoration goals, including those targeting climate change mitigation, water quality protection and species conservation. In short term, ill-informed decisions on the approach to peatland restoration can generate negative impacts, for instance on the downstream water quality or radiative forcing gas emissions. Synthesis and application. The restoration of peatlands, and the trajectory that any restorative action may take, is a matter of societal choice; however, it is essential that society understands the broad potential benefits and disadvantages that such restoration may have so that evidence-based choices can be made.