In this paper, a simple model is proposed for measuring the vegetation cover over soil surfaces from radar signals acquired in semi-arid regions. In such regions, vegetation is characterized by the presence of clumps which partially cover the soil surface. The proposed model describes the relationship between the percentage of covered surface and the measured radar signal. Model simulations over Tunisian test areas, where ground parameters are controlled, are performed and compared with actual ERS2 radar measurements. A very good agreement is found. The model is then used to derive a map of the vegetation cover density for the whole studied site (in Tunisia). The approach used here is based upon supervised classification with classes defined by inverting the model and taking into account ERS calibration error. Each of the four classes thus defined exhibits a good classification rate, greater than 85%. Finally, two important applications for natural resources management are presented: vegetation monitoring and soil moisture monitoring.