In Fennoscandia, use of the natural forest as a reference for restoration and management of forest biodiversity has been widely accepted. However, limited understanding of the structure and dynamics of the natural forest has hampered the applications of the natural variability approach. This is especially the case in areas, where the natural forests have almost totally vanished. This review was motivated by the idea that despite these difficulties the essential features of the natural forest can be reconstructed based on biological archives, historical documents, research done in adjacent natural areas, and modeling. First, a conceptual framework for analyzing the relationship between forest structure, dynamics and biodiversity is presented. Second, the current understanding of the structure and dynamics of natural forests at different spatiotemporal scales in boreal Fennoscandia is reviewed. Third, the implications of this knowledge, and gaps in knowledge, on research and on practical restoration and management methods aimed at forest biodiversity conservation are discussed. In conclusion, naturally dynamic forest landscapes are complex, multiscaled hierarchical systems. Current forest management methods create disturbance and successional dynamics that are strongly scale-limited when compared with the natural forest. To restore some of the essential characteristics of the natural forest’s multiscale heterogeneity, diversification of silvicultural and harvesting treatments, as guided by natural disturbance dynamics, is needed to produce more variation in disturbance severity, quality, extent, and repeatability.