The Forbes and Upper Hastings Rivers fall within the Hastings catchment, located on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. As is the pattern over much of coastal New South Wales, clearing has occurred over much of the low floodplains. Forbes and Upper Hastings subcatchments occur within Werrikimbe National Park and form part of the Gondwana World Heritage Area. Scattered mining and agricultural activity occurred in the Upper Hastings catchment before its reservation, and two drains, originally installed to drain swamps, remain in the upper catchment.
Despite these disturbances within the catchment, the Forbes and Upper Hastings Rivers were recognised to exist in a substantially unmodified condition and formally recognised as wild.