The ecological literature offers many conflicting recommendations for how managers should respond to ecosystem change and novelty. We propose a framework in which forest managers may achieve desired forest characteristics by combining strategies for (1) restoring historical conditions, (2) maintaining current conditions, and (3) transitioning toward novel conditions. Drawing on policy studies and the ecological and social sciences, we synthesize research on factors that shape forest management responses to ecosystem novelty and change. Although the ecological literature often suggests the likelihood of transitions to novelty, we found that a management focus on restoration and persistence strategies was supported by landowners, private and public lands policy, and forest manager capacity and culture. In this era of unprecedented change, managers and policy makers must address ecosystem novelty to achieve desired forest futures without eroding support for forest conservation and management.