Understanding the long-term ecological dynamics of boreal forests is essential for assessment of the possible responses and feedbacks of forest ecosystems to climate change. New data on past forest dynamics and peatland development were obtained from a peat sequence in the southern Valdai Hills (European Russia) based on pollen, plant macrofossil, micro-charcoal, peat humification, and testate amoeba analyses. The results demonstrate a dominance of broadleaved forests in the study area from 7000–4000 cal yr BP. Picea was initially a minor component of this forest but increased in cover rapidly with climatic cooling beginning at 4000 cal yr BP, becoming the dominant species. Broadleaved species persisted until 900 cal yr BP, with evidence for intensified felling and forest management over recent centuries. Over the last four hundred years there is evidence for widespread paludification and the establishment of Picea-Sphagnum forests. These data demonstrate how modern wet woodlands have been shaped by a combination of climatic and anthropogenic factors over several millennia. The results also demonstrate the value of a multiproxy approach in understanding long-term forest ecology.