Forest restoration is the counterforce to deforestation. In many parts of the world it mitigates forest loss and degradation, but success rates vary. Socio-political variables are important predictors of effectiveness of restoration activities, indicating that restoration strategies need to be locally adapted. Yet, contextual assessments of the biophysical, social and political characteristics of forest restoration are rare. Here, we integrate a social-ecological systems framework with systematic decision-making to inform forest restoration planning. We illustrate this approach through a prioritization analysis in a community-based forest restoration context in Paser District, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. We compare the solutions of our integrated framework with those identified on the basis of biophysical criteria alone. We discover that incorporating a socio-political context alters the selection of priority areas. While the social feasibility and political permissibility can be enhanced, ecological benefits are likely to be reduced and/or opportunity costs of alternative land uses are to be increased. Our conceptual framework allows the appraisal of potential trade-offs between social and ecological outcomes of alternative options, and has the potential to evaluate the efficiency of existing policies. Empirical testing in a range of contexts is required to ensure broad applicability and transferability of our conceptual framework.