The speed with which restoration will, or can, be accomplished depends on the initial state and location of the sites. However, many factors can undermine the process of choosing sites that are deemed the best ecological choice for restoration. Little attention has been paid to whether site selection follows ecological criteria and how this may affect restoration success. We used habitat inventory data to investigate whether ecological criteria for site selection and restoration have been followed, focusing on restoration for the white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos B.) in Sweden. In our study region, which is situated in an intensively managed forest landscape with dense and young stands dominated by two coniferous species, purely ecological criteria would entail that sites that are targeted for restoration would (1) initially be composed of older and more deciduous trees than the surrounding landscape, and (2) be at a scale relevant for the species. Furthermore, restoration should lead to sites becoming less dense and less dominated by coniferous trees after restoration, which we investigated as an assessment of restoration progress. To contextualize the results, we interviewed people involved in the restoration efforts on site. We show that although the first criterion for ecological site selection was largely met, the second was not. More research is needed to assess the motivations of actors taking part in restoration efforts, as well as how they interlink with public efforts. This would allow us to identify possible synergies that can benefit restoration efforts.