Global ecosystems have shifted from historical conditions, but it is unclear from what baselines change should be assessed. Scientists and managers have increasingly accepted the impossibility of returning ecosystems to a "pristine" state; however, historical conditions remain the cornerstone for restoration and management. We explore the rationale behind the application of historical baselines to ecosystem management and propose Anthropocene baselines as a concept to provide an improved basis for the management of human-dominated ecosystems. The Anthropocene baselines concept emphasizes the conservation value of the remnants of historical ecosystems but confronts the reality that many ecosystems cannot - or will not - be restored to historical ranges of variability. In order to prevent further unwanted changes to biodiversity and ecosystem services, we suggest that the management of human-dominated ecosystems must move beyond historical constraints toward new points of reference dictated by social-ecological sustainability.