Abstract The reduction and fragmentation of forest habitats is expected to have profound effects on plant species diversity as a consequence of the decreased area and increased isolation of the remnant patches. To stop the ongoing process of forest fragmentation, much attention has been given recently to the restoration of forest habitat. The present study investigates restoration possibilities of recently established patches with respect to their geographical isolation. Because seed dispersal events over 100 m are considered to be of long distance, a threshold value of 100 m between recent and old woodland was chosen to define isolation. Total species richness, individual patch species richness, frequency distributions in species occurrences, and patch occupancy patterns of individual species were significantly different among isolated and nonisolated stands. In the short term no high species richness is to be expected in isolated stands. Establishing new forests adjacent to existing woodland ensures higher survival probabilities of existing populations. In the long term, however, the importance of long-distance seed dispersal should not be underestimated because most species showed occasional long-distance seed dispersal. A clear distinction should be made between populations colonizing adjacent patches and patches isolated from old woodland. The colonization of isolated stands may have important effects on the dynamics and diversity of forest networks, and more attention should be directed toward the genetic traits and viability of founding populations in isolated stands.