Résumé : 1.The main aim of this restoration attempt within a nature reserve was to recreate sustainable conditions for wetland species, particularly aquatic plants.2.In the process of restoration, two phases of activity were distinguished: a pre-restoration phase, during which information on land-use history and past vegetation was collected and used to establish clear restoration goals; and a restoration phase for stimulating germination and establishment of target species originating from the soil seed bank and species pool.3.Within the first year of the study, pond digging allowed the establishment of extremely rare native species that react positively to mudflat creation and standing water availability. The results of this experiment indicate that pond digging can be a very suitable technique for re-establishing aquatic and wetland vegetation, providing that the site is well chosen.4.An essential prerequisite for successful restoration is a study of the past vegetation of the target site and its surroundings. This work illustrates the importance of past vegetation in affecting current restoration success and provides an example of how restoration projects benefit from knowledge and understanding of both historical and present conditions.Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.