Last year Hansen et al. published Global Forest Change map as set of raster data available in TIFF format. Basically those are 30-meters resolution satellite images with pixel values ranging from 0 (no forest) to 100 (full forest).
I would like to programmatically calculate tree cover area over certain country that has its boundaries described by a shapefile. Since I just started with GIS, would you be so kind and advise me where should I begin? What are the available libraries that could help me?
I guess my problem is not new at all, but with my limited knowledge I was unable to find proper resources (or recognise them as such). My preference would be C++ or Python, given that the latter has some high-performance libraries.
For starter, I have found this post that describes how to handle it in ArcGIS. However, since I want to process lot of shapefiles (500MB) and raster data is huge in size, using such an approach is not an option.