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How to Make Money Growing Trees.

How to Make Money Growing Trees, by James M. Vardaman. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158 (1989). 296 pp. Hardcover, $29.95.

When I proposed a book to my agent recently, she said, "If you can get the word money in the title, it will sell better." James Vardaman, one of the country's most successful timber consultants, starts with the idea that people who own 40 to 4,000 acres are "primarily interested in making money."

Filled with ideas and tools for making money from timber, this book reveals only a marginal recognition on the part of the author of wildlife, watersheds, species diversity, or aesthetics. It's about tree farms.

Given those limitations, it is a useful book with a kind of shrewd lazy-gardener approach that simplifies tree farming and accounting and legal business without oversimplifying. The author offers sample legal forms, step-by-step advice for drawing up a sustained income-management plan, and case histories. With 45 years in the business of selling other people's land and timber, Vardaman doesn't miss little things like "curb appeal"; the small talk of trading, grazing, and mineral rights; and the interest you're losing on money tied up in unnecessary seedlings.

Still, all Vardaman's knowledge fails to make a convincing case for timber as an investment that rivals bonds, stocks, fine art, or real estate. He suggests that 7-percent return is fine, partly so because there is so little work and risk to the investment. Fire, hurricanes, disease, and rising real estate taxes may be taken too lightly. For most people who look at alternatives, 7 percent is fine only if tree farming offers something valuable in addition to money.

Vardaman would, I'm sure, disagree. It's worth reading his reasons. And for the owner of timberlands for whom the dollar is the ultimate goal, this is the most down-to-dollars book a layman can buy.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Forests
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1989
Words:314
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